Saturday, November 20, 2010

Listening to the Young (Adults)

It's interesting being in a congregation undergoing massive change.

Since First Christian sold its building in 2008, we've been deciding what to do next.  In September a vote was taken on deciding on four options: 1) a move to a new building; 2) a house church; 3) move into a shared space with two other churches; 4) close.  Options 2 and 4 got the lowest votes and now it's down 1 and 3.

Every so often, the taskforce charged with looking into these options get together and talk.  Sometimes we report about what is the talk within the congregation.  More often than not, the talk is always coming from one group: those in their 70s, 80s and even 90s.

For whatever reason, the views of this group is made known.  But what's interesting is that another group's views are seldom if ever mentioned: those under 40.  There isn't a large group of them at church, but they exist.  What's interesting is that no one has every really asked this group what they think about what's going on which is kind of odd: this is the group of folks that this church wants to attract and in some ways, their views seem to be ignored.

I know it's not intentional.  And no, I'm not saying the views of the older people don't matter.  But why aren't we taking the time to prod this group for insight to what the church is to be and do in this age, and moreso why aren't we asking them how they are doing?

Carol Howard Merritt's latest post is basically asking the same question.  This portion of her post is a keeper: often we want people to enter our churches and begin caring about all of the traditions and cultural norms that concern us, but we don’t always take the time to meet them at the level of the ashtray. We neglect to find out what concerns them, what is important to them, and how we can work together.

Maybe the best way to attract younger folks is not with cool music or good coffee (though the latter is important in my book), but maybe it's by actually being concerned with their lives; wondering how they are doing, how the congregation can best help them and, well, how to be church to them.

The young adults at our church are fascinating people and have ideas and thoughts that are of value to this community called First Christian.  And the young adults at congregations all across the nation are people with questions and ideas that we need to pay attention to.

Let's not ignore the old, but let's listen the young in our midst- even if they are few in number.  What they have to say might surprise us.

No comments: