Where are they?
Where are the 18-30 year olds?
We know they’re not attending standard-issue church. And they’re mostly not attending the alternative churches developed to “reach” them. This issue has been analyzed and analyzed some more, by people way smarter than I. That’s not the purpose of this post.
The Good Shepherd leaves the 99 (who are sitting in pews, slick auditoriums, and rented elementary school gyms) to find the 1. He doesn’t chase down that renegade sheep in order to tell him that resistance is futile. The passage in Scripture simply tells us that the Shepherd hunts down the sheep and rejoices when he is united with it.
Perhaps because I have 3 young adult children – or because my little day job is at a place full of young adults – or because I read young adults’ blogs, listen to the music they create, and observe and learn from the way they dress and interact with the older world – – –
– – – I admire them. I admire their passion, their willingness to ask questions, their creativity and facility with technology, their honesty, and their desire for risk and authenticity. I know that a few are starting churches and home fellowships. I know there are others who’ve cast their lot with other alternative types of faith communities (urban monasteries, discipleship schools, service organizations) because they want to DO something, rather than be passive spectators. Most of them are not interested in our slogans, org charts and pre-chewed cud.
There is a generation of sheep wandering. When I pray for them, I hear a soft bleating in my ears.
This morning, Bill and I were chatting with a nice man our age who asked, “If Paul and Peter came back and visited our churches, what would they think? Once they got past the technology, would they be happy with what we’re doing? Singing? Proclaiming? Would they even recognize the message? Why?”
With all my heart, I believe that many of the 18-30 year-old wandering sheep may have wandered because they’re looking for the Shepherd. They’re not finding him where we’ve been telling them we’ve been keeping him.