In the March, 2018, “LCMS Reporter,” an article shared findings from an in depth study among LCMS young people. Statistics give us a glimpse and some insight into ministry. What their research showed was that 18% of confirmed young people are still active in their home church, 10% moved away, 3% attend a different LCMS church, 11% attend a different church and 41% have no contact with any church. Most of us are familiar with that in our many years being active in a Christian Congregation. What was key was the insight gained from young people still active in their faith within their congregation. Young people when asked stated this for reasons for their continued activity; 29% parents, 13% pastor of their home church, 12% other family members, 12% teacher, 21% another church worker. Not surprisingly, the active young people saw this as key factors for their continued involvement; 1. Parents, who practice their faith. 2. Healthy relationships, 3. A Pastor who showed personal concern for them. 4. Attending the LCMS youth Gathering. 5. Being close to their home church and/or being involved in campus ministry.
The bottom line for young people was summarized in these words, “Young people don’t want more to do, they want safety, authenticity and the sacred.” Safety and authenticity are found in the message of The Church, the preached and taught Word of God and in authentic relationships. The Sacred is always with the church in its worship, communion life and hallowed message. Young people don’t necessarily want to be entertained, talked down to or want to be adored. They want authenticity and safety. That comes from real life members, no matter their age or background, who are willing to enter into a godly relationship with them. That comes from fellow believers who in their humility are willing to share their weaknesses, faults and hope and joy found in the grace and redemption of Christ. That comes from maturing members who are willing to lovingly care and take interest in the faith life of a young person, and it begins with a hand shake, an introduction and a bit of sincere effort.
Over the years most of us don’t necessarily remember an activity or the food that was shared with us at a church event, what we remember the most are the people we connected with. While we might lament the younger generations and their habits and the values, one thing we can admire is that they are seriously seeking ‘Transparency.’ In other words, “Be real!” Our Tuesday morning Bible Class has been discussing “Genesis.” God made us in His image and the need to be in community and relationship with each other. We were made to love, interact, share, support and care. In the Thursday Law and Gospel class, we hear that we are all sinners who are in need of Christ’s redemption and forgiveness. They both deal with the ‘authentic!’ A person once shared that they believed that no one knew enough about them to pray for them. I often quip; “Show me a person not in worship and I will show you a person that doesn’t have 25 positive relationships in that church.” My children, who just graduated from college were blessed with LCMS congregations that were willing to reach out to them. It’s hard to minister to a person if we don’t know their name and the slightest thing about them.
As we weekly confess, “The Communion of Saints,” we confess we are sinners who are in God’s house by his gracious calling. We have been called to be for one another as fellow redeemed. Remember, “Relationships, Relationships, Relationships,” and all God’s people say, Amen! Pastor Mews.