I spent the morning with some teens a couple of Sundays ago. Our youth pastor was away and I was filling in. We usually make a plan to transfer some curriculum materials and then the plan never comes together and I just wing it. I enjoy the spur of the moment conversations--the teens always provide a lively discussion!
A day or two before this particular Sunday morning, Mrs O was reading an article that cited the number of kids who grow up in the church and stay in the church as adults.
It's a small number.
The moment she told me about that statistic I knew we HAD to talk about it on Sunday. So, when I sat down on our hand-me-down couches to chat with the teens, I shot up a quick prayer,
"God, if there's something we need to hear please, bring it out."
Then I told them about the statistic Mrs O had read and asked why they thought kids who grew up in the church would choose to leave. The discussion that followed was AMAZING!
First, one person talked about the difficulty in finding a new church if you relocate to a new town. Many students go to college in a new town and may never find another church community or may not even look for fear of walking in by themselves.
We discussed many things that may turn people away: the looks of the facility, differences between themselves and the general demographic of the church, and the list goes on.
Then one person suggested young people may be turned of by the number of people who claim to be christians but don't act like it. . .
Now, the conversation gets lively!
What does that mean? What is a christian supposed to act like?
We talked about sincerity.
We talked about service.
We talked about practical love and what that all looks like.
I was so excited as they were coming to some of the same conclusions I have. We are supposed to be serving. . . not just one week per year. . . not just in foreign countries. . . not just the inner cities. This is what we are supposed to be doing ALL the time, wherever we are in the moment!
I shared my story about the bird seed and the flowers on the patio of the nursing home. I told them how I enjoy that stuff even though it's not at my home. I encouraged them to begin thinking about their own passions and ways they could enjoy them even more by using them in some way to serve and bless other people.
One young man began to tell us all about his interest in fish. He suggested he might be able to put together a fish tank for this same nursing home which turns out to be just a few blocks from his home!
One young lady reminisced about random acts of kindness she was involved with at one point.
One young man suggested we get involved with a community center near his home.
Now, it's only been a couple of weeks so none of this has come to fruition yet. But, I'm already excited to see what God will do, and how He will lead. There was definitely a spark in our conversation.
I want to see the spark catch fire!