I had an interesting conversation with a 26 year old guy today who was visiting our church for the first time. His neighbor, one of our older members, invited him to come and even sat with him. This young man was energetic, smart, and seemed to enjoy our service very much.
The interesting part was when I asked him if he had any questions about our church and its ministries because he replied, “What do you have for people my age? Single young adults?” I was honestly stumped because until recently we didn’t have anything specifically targeted at that demographic. HUMC has traditionally been a church full of young families with kids ranging from 30’s to 40’s in age. Hence why much of our ministries are targeting families with kids.
My response to him was, first, to invite him to the small group I’m leading on Sundays at noon for young adults (40 Days of Community group). Hopefully he”ll come. My second response was to ask him if he was raised United Methodist (he had mentioned liking our service, so that prompted me to ask what tradition he came from). He surprised me again by replying that he was not an active church goer at all. I probably looked shocked and even said how surprising I found it that he’d find our somewhat traditional service engaging if he had not exprienced church much in his life (most “unchurched” folks gravitate toward the churches that don’t feel like churches, like those with rock bands and coffee). I suppose that was one of those “never assume” moments for me – I should not assume that young + single = contemporary.
I brought this up to my 40 Days young adult small group and they echoed what he said. It was interesting to hear younger folks (I’m 40, so I’m the geezer in the bunch) talk about how they need to feel like they are at “church” and not a “rock concert.” That spoke to me because that is completely opposite of what I would have assumed for that age group. Now the question is how can we truly engage this group into the life of HUMC knowing what they are looking for and needing in a church?
The bottom line is that this group of folks wants to BELONG. They want to know how to plug into a community of faith that looks different from them. They gravitate toward a similar worship style than others in our fold, but they have different needs and want to meet others in their age group and with their similar intrests and goals in life. How can we help everyone feel like they BELONG? How can we embrace all folks no matter who they are, how old or young they are, whether they have kids or not, etc? What steps do we need to take to be “hospitable” (see previous post) to the point where we are not only welcoming, but embracing? Well, I’m praying hard about that and I encourage you to do the same.