My brother’s got some good stuff on his blog about how the church can reach younger generations. Read the whole post here. Here’s the excerpt that I especially latched onto:
I have the privileging of serving on the Texas Conference delegation to Jurisdictional Conference in July 08 where we will elect bishops. This last Spring we have interviewed candidates for bishop on of whom was a man named Steve Rankin. Steve is a chaplain at a Methodist college in Kansas. He works with young adults all the time. When asked by our delegation, how do we bring young adults into the church, he replied, “well, first we don’t start by bringing young adults into the church.” We didn’t know what to think of that but he quickly went on to say that young adults are looking for authentic relationships and Christian church folk must first engage young people right where they are. We must talk about what life is all about, what is important to them, get to know them at a personal level. Tell them about Jesus and where we came to learn more about him, what a difference he makes in our lives and what a difference he makes in the world. The key is and always has been – Relationships, relationships, relationships. We must pray and work at having real authentic relationships with people and not just within the walls of the church but anywhere people are. This is what our God did in Jesus – He sought relationship with us so intensely that he sent Jesus, Himself incarnate in the world so as to connect even closer with people. What we need to do as the church is essentially the incarnational ministry of Christ in this age.
Steve’s observation presses us on one of our default settings–that we are to first get people to show up and if people won’t darken our doors in order for us to make face-to-face contact with them, then we’re not sure where to go with that. I’m not grandstanding here, by the way. I’m as guilty as anyone in the church of not getting off my tail and engaging people where they are relationally–like Jesus–in order to touch their lives with Jesus and the gospel and the kingdom.
I don’t think we’re talking about a ban on church campus-based outreach, but I don’t think we do ourselves a service by wriggling off of Steve’s hook too hastily either just because we’re uncomfortable.