When I attended church for the first time, a tall guy with a soul patch (the seemingly universal requirement of a male youth pastor) approached. He said he saw my sister and me in service and wanted to invite us to the youth group that met later that night. I said, “Yeah, maybe,” which meant no.
Yet I remember thinking how great it was to have someone approach me and invite me to something my first time at church. It made me feel like church was a place I belonged rather than a place for “old people.”
After I graduated from high school and entered college, my experiences with churches became much different. Several times, I walked into a church, sat down and walked out after a service without anyone talking to me. Sadly, as I work with more young adults, I find out this is common in many churches today.
In Acts 6, widows were neglected. The church grew every day, but these widows were overlooked in the daily food distribution. In their book, “The Slow Fade,” Reggie Joiner, Chuck Bomar and Abbie Smith ask, “What if college-aged people are the widows of a twenty-first-century church?”
In a Barna survey, 59 percent of young adults with a Christian background report they have stopped attending church after going regularly in high school.
I think a mass exodus of young adults from the church does not result from Millennials wanting to miss church, but rather because people in the church do not try to connect with them. The church leaders in Acts 6 became aware of the need, accessed the need and, as a community, met the needs of the overlooked widows. What will you do now that you are aware of the need? Will you try to re-engage a generation that has gone mostly overlooked?
Go to fmchr.ch/Oct14Lynch for an expanded version of this article.
Adam Lynch, a 2010 graduate of Spring Arbor University, specializes in ministry to young adults.