It became a bad habit of mine, but out of kindness, that I would suggest to Sandra certain men-friends of mine that she might be interested in. Not that I don't believe women, or men, can't be complete without a mate, but she was always talking about men. She thought the UPS guy was cute and etc.
But one day, after I offered to set Sandra up, she said the most interesting thing. "You know Mike, I'm really not interested in a relationship with a man right now. I mean, if I knew he was Mr. Right, then maybe. But you never know until you've been with someone for a while. Then it is so very messy trying to get out of the relationship. So, I've always said that it is easier to stay out . . . than to get out."
I know I've spoken here a lot about the twenty-something generation. I have a heart for them because I have 4 kids who are in their 20s and the last one will join that distinction next year. So we know that the vast majority of that group have nothing to do with the Church, even those brought up in the Church. While Denise wishes all our kids attended church each week, it honestly doesn't matter to me anymore. What matters to me is what they are thinking about life, about what the meaning of all of this is and etc. But one theme I hear, at least from my son's Tyler's friends, is that they are fearful of the entanglements of the church. There are strings attached.
People would invite them to church and if they go once, but not go back . . . then there is an issue. "Why didn't you come back? Did someone offend you?"
If they go on a regular basis, soon it will be, "Why aren't you going to such and such program. You know, God wants us all to do our share."
Then if they participate with the program, soon the question comes, "Why don't you lead such and such, or give such and such."
Continuing to speak for that age group, the next thing they fear is entanglements into their personal lives. I'm not saying that's a bad thing but just that's how they see things. What I mean is, say the 25 year old guy brings his girlfriend. Soon it becomes obvious that they are living together. Then the questions and judgments start to come.
So the question I propose is what is minimal, but healthy, Church involvement? I'm asking this question as a realist. Many would say that my question is a bad question because we really should be asking, "What's the maxim involvement with the church we can do." But if you keep that narrative, that more is better, then the percentage of the 20 something kids not associated with any church will rise to 99%.
I still think the best thing we can do to reach them, is to offer them minimally intrusive church. I'm talking about, one get together per week at a coffee shop, were deeply candid questions can be discusses. The sacraments can be observed on occasion. Counsel always available. Then create a social community (aka church) among the group. I think it would be healthy if this smaller microcosm was attached to a larger fellowship that involved all age groups. But that the expectations of involvement with programs would be low.
The types of involvement for this new generation has to be different from the 90s. I think these 20 something kids would relate far better to helping with a church sponsored soup kitchen, or park clean up, than a very evangelistic program of drama, tears and preaching (think of Jesus Camp here).
I know that Frank Schaeffer said that what attracted him to the Othrodox Church was this strong sense of community but with a lack of intrusiveness into your personal life. What he meant was a judgmental intrusiveness. The example he gave was deciding for no clear reason, that they would not attend church for a month. When they went back there would be no assumptions that they were mad about something or turning their backs on the Lord but simply the assumption that they must have had good reasons.
I think I'm starting to ramble so I will pause.