Things I hate:
1. Chips in my ice cream
2. Times New Roman
3. When things don’t work with no apparent reason for breaking (ie, all of a sudden patchy Internet service).
4. When people don’t believe The Rules apply to them
5. When I read a book and feel so immensely challenged and crushed at the soul level and motivated to create change… And feel completely lost as to how to even get started.
One of these happened recently, I’ll let you guess which one.
Oh, okay. I’ll give a hint. I read You Lost Me, a Barna book about the mass exodus of young people in the church. I’m not normally a huge Barna fan, but this one grabbed me based on subject matter, timing and the fact they offered it free for my Kindle. Free things is on the list of things I love (along with time at the lake, wine, car time and New Sheet Night).
The book challenged me to examine my previous work with young people and see the holes. But is also provokes me to want to change the tide. In many ways I resonated with te sentiments of many who are not able to find a home in the church, I’ve just not yet been provoked to the point of giving up (and honestly, I don’t know if I can. I’m too in love with Her to simply give up hope. At times I think we miss that the Church can be a bit prodigal as well, yes?).
But back to my 5am frustrations. I’m not finished with the book and all I want to do is run out and find some 17-year-old and hug her and tell her that together we can seek and discover they ways in which Jesus’ kingdom is right here if we just squint our eyes just right and engage our imaginations in the ways which we can join in.
And then the Practical Beast rears her head and says, “so, how will you do that? Where will you meet this maiden? How does this story even start?” and I simply don’t know. Because, back to 2 paragraphs ago, we’re simply not built for this.
I think to my own recent experiences of church. After one year in a new town, we’re on our third attempt to engage with a body and feel so incredibly thirsty. Each and every church we’ve attempted I took the pro-active approach. I emailed. I asked to meet with a person in leadership. I offered to participate in the ways which fit. And continually instead of connecting with people with like-interests or being introduced to avenues of joining forces, I’ve received invitations to meetings. Or classes. Or a three step process of uncovering my place.
Can someone just give me a freaking teenager who is chomping at the bit to explore God’s ways with the world? Introduce me, share that I love to read and talk and perhaps we can do coffee/ice cream/dessert some time and then send. Send us on our merry little way.
I realize I’m slightly short of the norm. I know much of the free world doesn’t know their giftings or interests, but I can tell you a better way to discover them: meet the person. In a real conversation about their experiences. Watch them get revved up about a topic and say, “let me introduce you to ______. He’s currently trying to ______ and I think you’d really be able to help.”
As churches both flounder in engaging members in service and strive for hospitality, I say the two are holding hands, playing ring-around-the-rosie and we’re busy trying to find the best coffee bar or gift card. As a person who doesn’t want to simply consume but hungrily wants to contribute something, somewhere to someone, I advise you of this: ask. Us. To. Lunch.
Stop telling us how wonderful your church is and ask me if we’re willing to get our hands dirty. And not just in taking a turn in the nursery (though, fine, I will pay my dues there) simply because I use the service. Find 3 passions and look at how one of those meets a need in your circumstance. Not to serve the church: to serve people.
I say this in the most loving and compassionate voice I can muster. But my lip is quivering. Puh-push-puh-please?
I cannot speak on behalf of all people. I can barely speak on behalf of “young adults” as I barely fit into the demographic. But after reading and resonating, I feel I can accurately say that a larger population of us exist, that seek substance of relationship and service over a good morning production.
Visit me elsewhere: