One prevalent problem in our churches is disappearance of people from age 18 to 30. Even the most active youth group kids seem to go away to college and virtually disappear off of the congregations' radar. There are many possible reasons why this, but chief among them has to be that when they return, their home church no longer feels like home. When you are an authentic member of a household, there are certain things that are thrust upon you that aren't given to guests. For instance, there is a real space for you where you belong, you are not merely crashing on the couch or sleeping on the floor. Secondly, chores or responsibilities are assigned to you; guests do not do dishes or mow the lawn, but family members do. Finally, as a member of the family or household you have some platform to speak and be heard by the other members, whereas a guest should be politely quiet. Our young adults — especially the single ones — are not finding these things in most of our churches. As a result, we tend to have very few young adults that faithfully attend our churches, and even fewer that have any real leadership responsibilities.
There is much that we can do to combat this problem within our own churches, but at The Leadership Exchange (a new denominational ministry of the CRCNA) we are trying to address this problem from a denominational level. Currently we are planning a round table discussion for the end of August with young adult leaders from all over North America. At this event, we plan to discuss the current state of young adult leadership in the church (from their perspective) and also to begin planning a potential Young Leaders Summit to correspond with Synod 2012. We are currently seeking participants for this discussion, so if you are interested or if you know some young adults who might be good candidates to be passionate catalysts for change within our denomination then please contact me for more information. We must pursue young adults for two reasons, they need to be a real part of the covenant community, and quite possibly we need them even more.
As William Willimon says, "For all of us older people, young adults make following Jesus exciting again."
Leadership Exchange Young Adult Coordinator