Friday, February 01, 2008

Where Are The Youth?

I get asked that question all the time. It comes in many forms. Some ask why there are no youth in their church. Others ask why parents don’t bring their kids. One church even asked how they can make the kids like what they do.

I find it frustrating. Last time I checked most of our communities have schools and those schools; elementary, middle, high schools and colleges all have kids and young adults in them. I drive through communities and see kids playing. I drive by soccer fields and see all ages running around. So the problems isn’t that we’ve suddenly stopped having children. People in New England are still perpetuating the species and a reasonable rate.

This rant isn’t about blame. It seems we get hung up on blame. We blame parents, society, kids, sports, schools for the lack of people under 25 in our churches. But blaming hasn’t increased their numbers in our pews. If it did we’d have run out of space long ago.

So where are the youth? Maybe that is the wrong question. Rather where is the church? Do we really want youth in our church? What are we willing to do to reach them and bring them in? One church in this district provides a place for teens to hang out on Friday’s? Another has an active group which engages in mission activities. Some even have worship services geared to reach youth and young adults.

I am beginning to suspect that most of our congregations (of course that is us) don’t really want youth. We want the “idea” of youth who will then continue on what we are doing. But we are not willing to learn what they need or invest the time and resources to really reach out to them. How many of us have had a conversation with someone between the age of 12 – 18 in which we asked about their interests, listened to their ideas and paid attention to their concerns?

What kicked this off for me was another request from someone looking for a United Methodist church with youth or young adults. They are looking for a congregation who care about young adults and youth. I find it frustrating when I can not direct them to a place within 30 miles of their home, because none of our churches around them reach out to people between the ages of 15 and 25.

Does it frustrate you? Do you have a heart to do something about it in your church? Well, what are you waiting for?


Hey, if you are already engaged in an exciting outreach to youth, share it here. Talk back, let’s hear it.

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