Allow me to introduce myself. I am a young adult member of your congregation. I may be the only young adult member of your congregation. I come every Sunday, or nearly every Sunday, and sometimes I volunteer to help out with stuff. Just here and there, nothing major. Or maybe I have led a service a time or two, or lit the chalice, or read announcements. And that one time, a few months ago, I helped lead an adult RE class, except nobody really came. But that’s ok.
So here’s the thing, I really like coming to church and you really seem to like having me there. People come up to me after services and ask how I am doing and they remember things that have happened recently in my life.
I like that. It makes me feel like you care.
When I take part in a worship service people come up to me after and tell me that they liked what I had to say, or the songs that I chose, or that I have a great presence.
I like that. It makes me feel like you value my participation in the congregation and in the pulpit.
And when I share something during joys and sorrows you make sure to send me a card, or give me a hug, and tell me that it will be OK. You give me advice that, really, doesn’t help much because things have changed in the past 35 years. But that’s OK, because I know you mean well.
I like that. It makes me feel loved.
But there are other things that happen in our community that I don’t like so much. That make me feel like, maybe, you don’t quite get how to have younger people involved in the congregation.
Our church has almost no web presence. We have a Facebook page that some enterprising person set up but it’s almost never updated. I spend a lot of time on Facebook, and so do some of the other congregants. If we updated it more often it would be a lot easier for me to share with my friends. I almost never pick up the phone to say, “Hey, my church is having a cool worship service this week. You should come!” but if I can share something on facebook, or retweet something on twitter, my friends are more likely to read it. Social networking is big right now. I think our church should recognize that.
I don’t like potlucks. Or gardening. Food and flowers are all well and good, but I really wish there was another way for me to get involved. Why can’t we hold a wall painting party where we spruce up that awful brown wall in the community room, or maybe update the bulletin boards a little more often? Or we could have a movie some night that appeals to a more broad spectrum of people.
If I offer to hold an adult RE class, or agree to do one after being asked, don’t market it as “for young adults.” My voice deserves to be heard and it deserves to be heard by the entire congregation. I have done a lot in my 20-something years, and I’d like to share that with everyone. When you relegate me to a position of ONLY being able to talk to people in my age group it makes me feel like you don’t think I need to be heard by the whole congregation. Let me speak to everyone.
Please stop telling me how “cute” I am.
Understand that when you ask my ideas on getting more younger people in the congregation, and then I give those ideas, that the next step is for you to respond to those ideas in a productive way, even if that productive way happens to be, “right now our church probably can’t swing this, but what if we did X instead?” It would show that you want to use my ideas, even if they aren’t the right things right then.
Also? I do have a life outside the church, so sometimes I will miss a Sunday. My schedule is not as concrete as people who have steady jobs, families, or commitments. But just because I may miss a week here or there because I am out of state, out of town, or simply not out of bed doesn’t mean that I am not as committed, it just means that I’m committed in different ways.
I guess what I am saying is “keep doing what you are doing, but also, please change.”
Thanks for listening.