Saturday, August 28, 2010

Church Search

One of the most critical times in the life of a Christian is that moment when they leave high school and venture out into the Wide World. I'm not just talking about the new temptations that open up. Most young people face those in high school anyhow, unless they are homeschoolers but even homeschoolers have enough contact with the outside world to learn about the darker side before they leave the nest.

No, I'm talking about church.

A church, a good church, is really a second home. Or sometimes even more like a first home, depending on what your family situation is. This may not be true for all of you, but in my teenage years my life revolved nearly completely around the rhythms of my church. Youth group, Sunday School, Bible Quiz team - these were the activities where I met and kept my closest friends. We saw each other three times a week at least at church, and our siblings and parents were close friends as well.

So when I left for college I had little desire to search out a new church. I'd just go home every weekend and attend my old church, right?

Doesn't work quite that way.

My friends moved on. Going back to my old church became strange and weird. I was out of sync and it no longer was "home" for me. Even when I came back from college for good this didn't change.

It wasn't until I moved out to Virginia that I found my own church for the first time. It was a really amazing experience. I attended this little Bible Church out in the mountains, and the sunrise Easter service and the wonderful people I met there will be some of my most enduring memories from my time out East.

But I'm home again now and I have to face decisions once again. I love my old church and my pastor and I'm involved with youth ministry there so I'm not leaving any time soon. But the trouble is there is a real lack of bible studies and the like for young adult singles who aren't in college, but aren't in their 30's.

I think this is a real problem with the church these days. Unless a particular congregation is located by a college, there simply isn't an awareness that these young people need connections. Because the other options are slim. Work and bars. How are we supposed to meet other Christian young people?

I've been doing some searching but haven't had much luck so far. Oh, there is a vibrant ministry going on not too far from where I live that is directly mainly at my age group. But it is very very hip and contemporary and that's not quite what I'm looking for in a worship service. I mean, I like contemporary worship music, but I'd like the building to actually look like a church and not have crazy lights, you know?

But it seems that's all you can really find for people in their 20's.


Mary Bess said...

Elena, can I just say thank you again for hitting the nail on the head? I've been wrestling with this same issue for 3 years, ever since I moved back home. I don't know where you live, but the situation is nearly exactly the same here in rural northeast Louisiana. I'm not even looking for single Christian men anymore, just girlfriends with a thirst for the Word and a love for their brothers and sisters.

I've concluded that there are probably only one or two of us in each church, and unless we cross denominational and territorial boundaries seeking each other and genuine fellowship, then we may remain isolated until we are swallowed into the other groups within our own churches. Which may not be the worst thing to happen either. Perhaps if we allowed ourselves to serve and love and grow alongside unfamiliar generations, we would discover a wisdom and a need for each other that might save our churches from greater strife later since one of Satan's favorite tactics is to enflame generational misunderstandings.

Of course that can't quite take the place of a group of friends your own age who will hang out til closing at a bookstore or coffeshop. I'll pray for you girl. I know the feeling intimately and hope you find someone soon. After three years of looking and praying God is finally gathering a small group of hurting single women from my graduating class even. Please pray that we are equipped to build each other up and gather even more into the lifeboat.

Elenatintil said...

Thank you Mary Bess! I really appreciate your comment. Thank you for taking the time to write it. :)

Carpe Guitarrem said...

I know the feeling. It's a shocking contrast coming back from Franciscan, simply because of all the family that I've made there. I have to keep in mind, though, that there's always family no matter where you go; God won't abandon you.

It is disconcerting, though, that so many churches don't have ministries for young adults. I suppose part of it in Wichita is that I don't have great transportation, as they've got such ministries (though they're also a college town). At the same time, it's regrettable that you have this group that's mainly neglected.

I figure it's because once you get to a certain age, you're considered to be part of the "adults", and you have your own ministries. Most of the parish members will be these adults. On the flip side, there's kids, with their Sunday school and such. And then in the us.

MJ said...

It's Church at home has a young adult ministry because some young adults started it. Here at school there isn't enough people so I've forced myself to go to an "adult" bible study. And it's been an amazing experience. Though I can't relate with most of the people in the Bible Study(most are retired) I have learned a lot. And I've been able to share with them views they never thought of.