I am 27 and I am single. As it turns out, I am an oddball for my generation. Though this is not news to me (I’ve been an oddball for my whole life for one reason or another), it is frustrating. People talk about how this generation is not in church and wonder why…I haven’t read the book unChristian but I have heard some of the numbers in sermons that support this. I have read blogs where people ask wonderingly how to get the 20 and 30-somethings back. And honestly it kinda pisses me off. I am still in church because I love the church. Warts and all, I love her (which is where the “oddball” things comes into play). She has so much potential! But in so many ways, we have sold out. It makes me want to leave sometimes. We prioritze our lives away to create hierarchies of responsibility which allow us to be neat and tidy with our responses to the various expectations that are thrown our way instead of relying on the Spirit to direct us. We idolize the family unit. We place it above the body of Christ. We worship it as the be all end all for the american dream. While the specifics of that american dream may have changed, the family is still highly sought after even if that is “only” a partner in crime (aka spouse). People were made for relationships. The body of Christ should be the epitomy of that. Instead we all come together for a few short hours every week and pretend to be united. Don’t get me wrong, we are united in the Spirit and there is nothing we can do that will change that fact. But practically speaking the church seems to me to be a bunch of individuals who allude themselves that they live in community. And I am a culprit myself. We have our own homes, our own cars, our own mixers and microwaves and radios and TVs and laptops and… We live in the illusion that we don’t need each other. We have pay at the pump, self serve, and self check outs because I can do it all by myself damn it. Sounds like something a 2 year old would say. So if you want to bring the 20 and 30 somethings back, it seems to me that at least part of that needs to be offering relationship. There are a lot of smart people out there with great suggestions for the more practical side of things but my 2 cents is this: even if you do all the right things as per the experts on post-modernity and emergent culture, if you are not working to build relationships with people, you aren’t going to attract this age group. Tell me you need me. Tell me I matter. Tell me you are okay with me being me. Tell me your community will benefit from what I have to offer. And make sure you mean it. Instead of prioritizing life, live it to it’s fullest. Do you think a single 20 or 30 something might enjoy hanging out with you and your family? And I’m not talking about just on Christmas when everyone magically starts thinking about people who have eaten hundreds of meals alone throughout the year. Stop compartmentalizing things and let’s share. Let’s live our messy lives with the messyness touching.
A note of caution: Don’t require me to be anything other than what God made me to be. Even if the way you understand that is different from the way I understand that. We don’t buy into guilt or manipulation. It makes us feel icky inside and scares us away. If I need to be changed, God knows it and will bring it about and might even use you to do it, but that must be on God’s timeline…not yours.
This rant is officially over. Hopefully I will not have to eat any of these words. Writing this has been a bit cathartic so even if I do oh well. These ideas are not fully formed in my head but control and perfection are idols I have bowed down to for far too long.