Thursday, September 24, 2009

thoughts on young adults and the church: part 3

So, a while ago I wrote a couple of posts on this topic, that you can find in the archives on the right-hand side of the page if you wish. This is not really a continuation of those posts though, but it does broach the same subject matter. This post comes from a book that I just finished reading. It was a challenging book at some points, but also encouraging. Part of what was so encouraging to me about the book was to read a section that, at least for me and some of the other young adults I know in the church, described the tension we live with. Especially having grown up in the church, I find myself caught in the midst of this.

The book is called Off-Road Disciplines: Spiritual Adventures for Missional Leaders by Earl Creps. I don't think I could do summarizing what he said justice, so permit to quote a larger section of a book than I normally would on here. In this section, Creps is speaking of Timothy, the young Christian church leader that Paul addressed 2 letters to in Scripture, and the challenges he would have having a Greek father and Jewish mother.

Timothy represents in some ways the younger leader of today who feels
caught between two worlds, one dominated by the more traditional expressions of
the Church (I'll call them the "Jews") and the other made up of the culture in
which they are natives (the "Greeks"). As a product of both, these modern
Timothys also attempt to navigate a morphing culture in which the only question
seems to be the nature of the next change. Yet the "Jewish" world of traditional
church that asks for the allegiance often seems so poorly suited for our highly
fluid environment that they cringe at the thought of giving their lives to it.
Many of these hybrid young people ask me privately, "Am I going crazy?" Or,
after meeting a few peers experiencing the same stresses, they say with obvious
relief, "I thought I was the only one!" (pg. 163)

They cherish their"Jewish" heritage of conservative spiritual values but
recognize that it now faces the challenge of the increasingly diverse, "Greek"
world of which they are also citizens. The mingling of both influences makes our
Timothys something like the the children of cross-cultural missionaries: third-culture people who bond both to their homeland and to their
adopted nation, creating a virtual citizenship that does not exactly represent
either. (pg.163)

I have been incredibly blessed to grow up in a church community that has allowed young adults freedom to do things in a way that works more for them while still being a part of and accountable to the larger community. And I have deeply appreciated that. But, even still, there have been times when I found myself feeling these same sentiments - as I struggle with wanting to be a part of reaching out to my world, balanced with a love and respect for those who are older and more traditional in how they view things and do things.

I would venture a guess that this section from this book describes the way many young adults have felt, and probably do feel, in their interactions with the church. I know when I read this section of the book it was like someone was reading my heart and mind on the matter at various points in my life. And, it was encouraging to me to read it in a book written by someone who is far beyond the young adult years, but "gets it". Then it made me grateful for the number of other followers of Christ in my life who don't fall into the category of young adults who also "get it." I can only pray that more people, both young adults and those who aren't, will "get it". I think that will make a huge difference in how the church (as in the whole body of believers, not just a specific building) moves forward together, rather than divided.

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