One of my weekly habits is surfing through magazines, websites, news feeds etc. looking for trends. I believe that Jesus and the Apostle Paul give evidence that they were students of the culture. They knew what was going on, paid attention and thus could place themselves in the best place and time for the ones most vulnerable to the Gospel.
A trend that I have been seeing for sometime was featured in a recent Trendwatcher post. The title of it was “Flawsome”. It is a term being used by business people who have discovered that people are not really drawn to the perfect product or company, they will most often be loyal customers of a company that expresses some flaws, shows some “humanness”. Companies like Dominoes Pizza who say they measured the cheese and they were getting it wrong are part of the trend in becoming “transparent”.
Now if there ever was a place the church could tap into a market, that’s it. At the heart of our Gospel message is, ”We got it wrong.” It is what repentance is all about. But here is a place that I think this message is most needed today. It is to address the issue of why churches have not been able to retain, very well, the generation under 30.
I think we might recapture some and halt the departure of many if we could say, ”We got it wrong.” If we could say, we thought more about what it would take to make you like us that we didn’t give what you needed and really what you wanted. We gave you pizza and all night sleep overs, we gave you trips to rocking summer camps and winter ski retreats. Turns out what you needed was someone to teach you how to bring your life into relationship to God and His Word. You didn’t want less responsibility at church, you wanted more. You didn’t really want to “get away from those old people”, you really wanted to be embraced and loved by them and you really wanted ways to love them back and to serve them. You always did act suspicious when you heard folks use terms like ”big church” and “boring church”. You really did want to watch your grandmother cry when the preacher talked about heaven and you did think it was cool to take up offerings and even be asked what you thought about something.
Can we say to you, young adults, we got it wrong, we don’t know all the answers, can we talk about you helping us get it right? Can I urge every deacon fellowship to have a conversation about a new way of relating. Perhaps we could try not just providing and doing, but inviting young folks to the planning meetings and valuing their unique contributions. They do want us to get it right, most young adults that I speak with do not really want to abandon their church life, they just want it to be real and meaningful. After all, our core being is a community of people who live by forgiveness and the constant awareness of the need of it.