It is hard not to be involved in a conversation these days about young adults or campus ministry without hearing the question “how do we keep our young adults in the church?” When we ask this question in the best way, we are wondering how we can invite young adults to remain in a covenant community, to enjoy the benefits of being mentored and supported there and to enjoy the riches that our heritage has to offer them.
But what would happen if we changed the question to: “how do we join our young adults in what they are doing?" Instead of thinking about keeping our young adults in the church, we looked for ways of joining them in what they are doing? This is not to suggest that they have all the answers, or are clearly leading the way into the future, but it shifts our conversation and activity from one of having them remain in the existing church, to one of our joining them, and God in living into God’s future together.
Recently, I attended part of a philosophy conference that was designed to make philosophy accessible and relevant to the people in our city. It was led primarily by undergraduate students and featured a range of presentations, installations and interactive sessions. In one of the workshops, a highly participative one, a faculty member from the university joined in, not as a leader, but as a participant. In doing so, she validated the work of the young adult leading the session, learned from her participation in the workshop and at the same time brought her wisdom, mentorship and insights into the group.
Can we not do this sort of thing with the young adults in our congregations and communities? Where are they going and what are they doing?
How might we join them in this, both to offer them the riches of our covenant community and heritage, but also to allow God to continue to transform both us and our community further?
Why not take some time today to identify places your congregation or community might join young adults in what they are doing and to put in place the next steps to make that happen?