After the event on June 8th, I was stunned at how many people aged 50+ came up to me with tears in their eyes, either mourning how their children had left the Church or overwhelmed by the purity in the exchange of the evening – generations interacting, worshipping and singing in unity. It was truly a picture of what I dream our churches could be and it saddens me to know that many of them are not. Sadly, too many are marked by the basic selfishness of one generation over another, one preference over another or one perspective over another that drive them into isolation, irrelevancy and eventual death.
But as we discussed that night, our story doesn’t have to go down as a tragedy. In fact, because we bear the name Christian, we automatically bear the name of One who reconciled, One who led boldly, One who spoke truth, One who embodied relevancy and One who loved the Church so much He died for it. Our hope is in the same place it has always been.
One of the great results of the Synod/re:kindle night was we asked each of the groups to put together responses to let us take the temperature of what themes were being discussed. You can view the full results (in the attached PDF), but here’s a few of the things that stuck out to me:
INTERGENERATIONAL: One of the things I spoke about was how many churches are trying to reach young adults by sectioning them off while what they really want is to be in a diverse community. But intergenerational is one of those things much easier talked about than done.
ADDRESSING THE ISSUE: Across the board, the older and younger adults at re:kindle & Synod were impressed by the willingness of the CRC and its leaders to talk about the problem of young adults leaving the Church rather than sweeping it under the rug or placing it on the back burner.
RELATIONSHIPS: Repeatedly, relationships were listed as the #1 weakness we have across the CRC, both intergenerational and otherwise. Relationships are key to healthy community, regardless of who is involved. I believe, if our churches had healthy community, this young adult exodus wouldn’t even be a topic of discussion. So maybe that’s where all of us can start: trading our insecurities for vulnerability, our self-interest for the interest in the good of the faith community we call home.
Hope can come to your community in the form of diverse generations learning from one another and the raising up of young leaders for the future of the Church. But for many of us it won’t happen by doing what we have been.
So what steps can your church take to help address the reasons young adults are leaving the Church and how might God be calling you to act/speak boldly in your community of faith?