As a "millenial" and a "young minister" I am often asked what the church needs to do to appeal to people of my age and demographic. I've heard a wide variety of answers to this question--from utilizing social media strategies to getting a congregation involved in Greenpeace to abandoning the particularity of Christianity altogether for something more modern and less old ancient and/or superstitious. It's a more recent form of a similar argument made throughout the last few generations of church that we should "get with the times."
And while I do certainly believe that we as the church much adapt to our present context from our music to our words to our practices and relationships, I am not sure that this is what ultimately drew me to and kept me at church. Or got me caught up in the Way of Jesus. I have actually connected the most with the particular Christian stuff--the Bible, prayer, worship, singing, tithing/giving, serving.
Sarah Puryear wrote a great article called "Wooing Millenials with Tradition, Not Pyrotechnics" that addresses this same issue. Writing as an Anglican she says:
Rather than luring young adults through flashy programs or outsourcing their formation to experts, we will contribute to the spiritual formation of the next generation best by being serious about our faith ourselves. We must be serious about our faith on two levels — first and foremost, demonstrating what it means to be a Christian, a disciple of Jesus; and second, modeling what it looks like to be a Christian in the Anglican tradition.
Two steps: First--model spiritual formation and a deep, lived faith as followers of Jesus. Second, offering practices and ways of living one's faith based on a particular tradition.
As with every other article out there, there is no one easy fix. But I wonder what would happen if we started deepening our own spiritual lives and knowledge of our own tradition. We have spoken at length on how we might reach out and draw others into the same spiritual pilgrimage that we are on. Yet, I am not sure if we can invite anyone else in to something we don't know very well for ourselves.
So, over the next year we'll be discerning how we can best go about this as a community of faith. There are a few studies in mind, including the longer Disciple Bible Study that begins in September (there are still a handful of spots left). But the main question remains: how can we best grow people of faith to be a blessing to the world?