My son came with me to day one of Annual Conference (North Texas Annual Conference). This was actually the second time he has been to AC; the first was when he was about 2 months old. He enjoyed Kenda Creasy Dean, particularly the talk she gave in the morning. He also came to the afternoon session. But when we left that session, here was his response (imagine how this sounds in a somewhat exasperated, ranting voice, indicated by the exclamation marks):
“I’ve been hearing this for 5-10 years! In that time the youth who were studied are now in college and beyond, and nothing has changed! Too much talk; too much “rah-rah;” no action! I know it’s hard to change the culture, but do you know how quick it would change if we let the young in? It’s depressing to hear it all again and nothing happen. My suggestion – instead of Annual Conference next year, everybody come together, make actual plans for their churches and then the next year, come back and tell what has actually been accomplished. Stop imagining and start making real changes!”
Now, to be fair, my son has been hearing all this because he has heard it from me. I bought and read Almost Christian the month it came out. I gave it to my youth pastors (and tried to talk with them about it) but they ignored me and the book. Actually they accused me of not supporting their ministry which, by the way, was heavily weighted toward Moral Therapeutic Deism. And even before the book came out and Kenda gave me language to speak about all of this, I knew something wasn’t right. So though I didn’t describe everything so amazingly well, as she did, I have talked about many of the same issues. So my son has known about this literally for years.
And we did discuss the fact that changing a huge organization like the UMC takes lots of time and lots of effort.
I wanted to share this, because it is a perspective from a young adult who cares about his faith, would like to have a place to worship, but hasn’t found a place that he feels called to be (does that make him a “none?”). He is a young adult who would like to help the church. He has lots of ideas, many of them quite good. When I showed him this post, part of his response was this:
"Letting the young in as people instead of 'fun leaders' would be more helpful. Maybe I'm seeing it only from my perspective. I don't actually know even where you'd let the young people in. I think my 'let them in as people' is pretty good."
He likes to dream big, but he also wants to get things done. I am trying to take advantage of having my very own faithful young adult, but if anyone else wants to talk with and listen to him, let me know and I will get you in touch. (He is willing!)