I sat with a very talented young 30 year old at a local coffee house this week. He feels called to ministry and is currently serving in a united methodist church . As we were talking about his future he said something that spun me around: ” let me make something clear, my future is not in the united methodist church”. He has seen the politics, the layers and levels of our greater administrative heap, the endless meetings that are getting us no where and has said ” no thanks”. He is not alone.
Where are these young 30 year olds? Where are the 20 year olds? I do see some of them on Christmas Eve with their parents. I know they are in many churches, and I have seen them come back to church because they want their children to have faith. But, where are they? When and how did we let them down? As a veteran of the bigger sized church, we get them to the youth department….and then the numbers start to decline. Actually, we get them to 2nd or 3rd grade, and then the slow trickle starts. Who are we kidding? When they get to college….you know the story.
Children’s and youth ministry has to be bold. I thank God for the new pioneers of children’s ministries….thank you and you know who you are. You and an army of volunteers make Sunday’s fun and you work hard at it. And then there are the churches who don’t have the resources or staff to do this amazing feat….and so this foundation has come into being. There are many things out there shouting for the attention of our children and youth. As a church, I have decided that we have to SHOUT LOUDER! And we are going to have to do it with excellence like we have never done it before.
Someone recently said that at the present rate my denomination is declining, if the trend is not reversed, we only have another 50 years. No wonder God has decided to go after this generation of children. They are something very special. There is a spiritual awareness that is new and awesome. We have to reach them in ways that are spectacular and bold and worthy of this generation of children. Hopefully, we will not lose them when they get to college. Hopefully, we will not lose again another generation of 20 to 30 year olds.
God has seen something that we can’t….this generation of children are our future church leaders, pastors, teachers, missionaries. I think when they take over, they will find that the greatest mission field in the world is right here in the US. I pray we will find a way to reach and prepare this generation of children to be the future leaders of a great movement of God , not a church who was great in it’s day and had a great founder and a great theology. Then we became bogged down in endless meetings that got us no where and we stopped reaching into our communities. We forgot how to be community.
I believe God is speaking to this generation of children in a way we cannot comprehend. He knows they are the hope of a denomination that may need a correction course, and the future leaders of what can still be a great and life changing church. Maybe some of them are on the Kresge Van on Wednesday nights right now.