This weekend is really the end: the end of our current series and the end of our 2010-2011 message season. Fittingly, we end on the Feast of Pentecost, which celebrates the beginning or the birthday of the Church. In our endings are our beginnings. Next weekend, Father’s Day, we kick off our new summer schedule, and the weekend after that we begin the first of our two summer series, “In the Beginning.”
Our topic for this final series has been an interesting and challenging one to present. Youth and their relationship to God, as well as their place in the Church is a tough topic, and by no means have we cracked the code. As we have worked through this series so many people have approached Chris Wesley and I sharing with us their particular concerns regarding young adults. If our young people begin to drift away from churchworld in their early teens, in their later teens and early twenties they disappear from the radar screen entirely. It use to be the case that we automatically assumed once they got married and settled down they would be back, but recent data is beginning to suggest that is no longer true.
Unfortunately, in this case, what is true elsewhere in churchworld is also true here, at least currently. We are not really tracking on the young adult population, they’re mobile, they’re elusive. Nearly all college age students go away to school (though that could be changing), which means we see them Christmastime and summertime. After that they might very well move away or live downtown. Of course, there are certainly plenty of post-college, pre-marriage young adults showing up on the weekends (actually quite a lot for a suburban church) but we’re not entirely sure how we want to reach them or what we want them to do. Sometimes they look isolated, we fear they might feel out of place in our “family friendly” environment. And we don’t usually remember to address them in our messages. This became the topic of discussion this week among our staff as we realized that even in the course of our message series about students and youth, young adults haven’t even been mentioned. We will right that oversight, but the point was made.
This coming weekend we will be inviting them to consider joining a small group. I was interested to learn from our new Small Group Director, Jack Boivard, that there are a couple of such groups already meeting. He would be very happy to have more, and so would I. Of course, there are other young adults in groups of mixed ages, and that can be valuable too, as older members pour their experience and wisdom into younger ones, and in turn, younger members share some of their special attributes (optimism, enthusiasm, openness) with the others. I would like to see many more young adults in small groups and ministry, especially kids and student ministry, where their presence can be a powerful attraction to youth.
Interestingly, I should note in fairness to our church, at this point most of our staff is under 35, with the majority of them under 30…so we definitely have young adult leadership. Maybe that’s the best place to start. With young leaders leading our ministers and ministry efforts we can perhaps more vigorously revive some of the enthusiasm and dynamic growth the Bible tells us characterized that first Pentecost Sunday, when the young apostles burst into the streets of Jerusalem with the life changing message of Jesus Christ…and, not incidently, the church began to grow exponentially.
When the day of Pentecost came, the apostles were all together…
suddenly a sound like the blowing of a mighty wind came from heaven…
all of them were filled with the Holy Spirit…Peter stood up and addressed the crowd…
“Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you, and you with the help of wicked men put him to death.
But God raised him from the dead…exalted at the right hand of God,
he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit, and has poured out what you now see and hear.”
Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.