This morning I read Keith Anderson‘s post “Young People Should Be More Committed to the Church” and thought he asked some great questions. It’s true – young people are not coming in droves to our churches today. And my guess is that most churches WANT people, want college students, want youth, want young families to be involved and active in their churches, but, as Keith writes in his article, are not willing to make the changes necessary to help that happen.
Sure, there are some exceptions to this, but this is probably pretty common in many of our churches today. Keith writes:
Here’s my hunch. When we say we want greater commitment from people, we mean commitment in the way people have purportedly “always” been committed in church. This tends to look like official positions with long-term time-intensive commitments of time. We reward longevity (not that there’s anything wrong with that) but we less frequently celebrate shorter term commitments. [source]
Keith shares about how some folks are using technology to make it easier for young adults to participate in the life and leadership of a congregation, which is really exciting! I wonder how our church could use some of these same technologies for our work. But I think it goes beyond just committee work and how we run our meetings. We need to be willing to overhaul everything, to rethink everything.
A couple years ago, when I was serving at Asbury United Methodist Church, the United Methodist Church ran a “Rethink Church” campaign. I don’t know how much rethinking of the church the UMC actually did (can some of you speak to that?) but that’s really what we all need to be doing. Whether we’re coming at it from an emerging church perspective, missional perspective, mainline perspective…we all need to be rethinking church: how we worship, how we run committee meetings, how we do mission work, how we offer pastoral care, how we think about leadership…there is so much we need to rethink.
The question is: are we willing to do so? Are we willing to put aside our own opinions and preferences for something greater? For being able to open the circle wider to allow even more participation by folks not currently a part of our communities? Are we willing to be more concerned about worship being something connects with younger people than whether or not we get to hear our favorite hymns on an organ that Sunday? I don’t know the answers – but if the church truly does think young people should be more committed to the church, we certainly need to be able to ask the questions and have the conversation.