General CBF / Missions

Young Adult Ministry Killing the Church?

There is an interesting article in an online magazine that asks if young adult ministries are killing the church.  What a crazy question.  Everyone knows that it is usually our ecclesiology—our understanding of church—that kills (maybe that is a strong word), impedes the church.  (Hear the facetiousness.)    

The article asks about young adult ministry really being about mutiny.  I am not so sure that this is about mutiny but rather about a simple question that most of us do not even consciously ask, “What is church?”  The author even writes, “Most of these ministries are created out of a desire to do church differently.”  The result is what we see occurring all over the western world, new imagination birthing church expressions. 

It is easy to be wrapped up in this question and this desire to do church differently and miss the point altogether.  Worship wars ensue, and we draw generational battle lines in our attempt to curve the mass exodus from our church building walls.  After all, such a question, “What is church?” will most of the time still result in changing the dressings of an attraction-al understanding of church. 

But wait a minute, I said before that “Everyone knows that it is usually our ecclesiology—our understanding of church—that kills (maybe that is a strong word), impedes the church.”  Changing the “dressings” does not go to the root of the issue.  To get to the “root issue”, we need to shift the question a bit.  What about asking, “What does it mean to be the church?”  What kind of imagination comes forth if we ask this question? 

What if my generation, those that follow, and those that came before, are already being the church in everyday social circles and our inherited church models and ecclesiology do not even recognize this.  If we started intentionally asking, “What does it mean to be the church,” would God transform our understanding of church?  Would this be leading a mutiny, or opening ourselves to the work of the Holy Spirit in our communities? 

Hear me say that this is a multigenerational question that has nothing to do with attracting people to our understanding of church but everything to do with how we live out our faith in our neighborhood and world.  This question has everything to do with the way that we encounter others and God.  This is a question that each generation to come must continue to ask.

Mutiny…or transformation, let’s choose the journey of transformation because we sure do not have the answers but we serve a God of grace that is on a mission, and this mission birthed the church and continues to shape the church.  There is a difference between church shaped mission, and mission shaped church.

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