I have had the wonderful pleasure of attending the Annual Sessions of our Area Churches this winter. It was encouraging to experience the energy and excitement of those who have shared a long commitment to the work of the broader church. I also hear a common desire to see this commitment passed along to others.
I usually worship with a congregation in the Area Church following these meetings. This too has been an important way for me to better understand our Canadian Church family.
During one of those congregational visits I was able to meet with a small group of young adults. We talked about what it means to be church in a changing context. They described how their peers are busy, and seem to portray little interest in traditional church. There was however, a keen interest in being engaged with issues of poverty and social justice. It was suggested that a natural place for people to become engaged with the church is when the church engages with these issues. We also noted that having responsibilities at Worship Services increases the probability of young adults attending those Worship Services.
I found the conversation intriguing and insightful. These young adults were swimming against the current of contemporary society and making congregational involvement an important part of their lives. I felt honoured to be in the presence of such pioneers.
We continued the conversation, discussing how we might be able to increase the involvement of young adults in our congregations across Canada. As the dialogue came to a close, I noticed a young man sitting quietly among the circle. He had been engaged in the discussion but had not said a lot. So I asked him for his thoughts.
He paused for a moment and said; “Most of my friends are not interested in Church. It’s too bad, because I think they would really enjoy it.”
The group disbanded, but this final statement impressed me. It was such a simple assessment, but such a profound clarity. After debating effective ways to engage young adults, perhaps the solution is simpler than we realized. If we offer more involvement with Worship Services and congregational ministry, young adults might just find that they really do enjoy it.
Maybe it really is that simple.