Exploring the Intersections of Faith and Life

MONDAY, OCTOBER 18, 2010

Youth – The Future of the Church?

Those of you who know me know that I would never say that – the youth are the present of the church!  We all are the future, no matter what our age.  But I raise this question for a different reason.  Most of our churches want youth in church.  Why?  Many reasons, but one large one is that they are looking to the future, and a population that is steadily growing older, and dying.  If the youth are not present in our church today, then what hope do we have for the future?

I was just reviewing some slides from a Heads of Communion retreat with the Minnesota Council of Churches.  One of the slides projects that by the year 2030, people over the age of 65 will outnumber children 15 and younger in the United States.  What does that mean for our churches?  Can we put all our eggs in one basket for the future, and hope we get more kids so that our churches will continue?  We can, but I think we all know that children don’t grow on trees.  Many churches put a lot of energy, even if it is just worry energy, into a ministry for youth.  I certainly think churches need to attend to that, especially if they have youth.  But I think we are missing a vital ministry – to the older members of our communities.   Not just the older members of our congregations, but the older members of our wider communities.  The need for health care, visits, cards, meals, pet care while in the hospital, support for caregivers, etc., will only continue to grow in the years ahead, and it doesn’t look like it will be slowing down anytime soon.  Why not develop a strong outreach/care ministry to those who are growing older, and don’t have a community around them to care?

If the church is going to have any meaning at all in the world, then we need to look beyond the way we’ve always done things, and look beyond what we hope for (youth!), and see the real needs that are around us, and anticipate the ones to come.  There are some real needs coming up on the horizon.  Take a look at them, and then go meet them head on.  You may be surprised at how that gives new life to the church.

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