Saturday, November 11, 2006

Where are all The Young People?

Recently, I received an invitation to attend a "Stewardship Lunch" at church. I know what this means. It means a box lunch for "church leaders", a chance to catch up with some friends, and then an hour long presentation about, of course, Stewardship - for the uninitiated, the giving of money.

We Presbyterians do this every year. Like someone may have forgotten what the point was last year! Sometimes, I would rather have oral surgery than go.

I could save this process a lot of time, and shorten the basic message to this: 1) We are a church, and order to operate, we need money, 2) Please give us your money; as much of it as you can, 3) Thank you, and please drive safely heading home.

They don't let me run these lunches. Can you guess why?

Anyway, during this event, I felt my mind wandering, and I took a moment to scan the room and take a quick inventory of the 80 to 100 people who were there; the "church leaders". As I have written before, our church is a wonderful mix of people, rich and not so rich, all colors of the rainbow, and a remarkable collection of faith stories.

But as I scanned the room, I saw one of the things I fear about our old, urban, mainline denomination church; an abundance of grey and colored-but-otherwise-grey hair.

Now mind you, I should talk. At 48 years old, I hardly even have any hair in the first place. But often, when attending events like this, I find myself having sort of semi-disembodied moments, when I try, for a moment, to mentally step out of the scene and take an inventory of who is there, why they came, and what motivates them to be a part of the scene in the first place. All these people, why are they here?

When I looked around this semi-and very-greying room, the thought that came thundering into my head, and then filled my heart with a cool wind was, "where the heck are all the Young People?". You know, the people under 40, under 35, or even under 30, for heavens sake! What are we going to build our church around in future years? Are we going to install hearing assistance devices in all the pews, and offer senior discounts to the Christmas pageant? Are future potluck dinners going to eventually transition to only pureed foods? Will we be issuing Clappers to turn on the lights?

Here is my problem. I think I read and think to much. For instance, this summer, I read a book that was formational in my thinking about the future of the Church. But guess what? This future church involves.....gasp!....younger people!

And where the heck were they when I was at the Stewardship Lunch. Not there, that is where. And why? Because I and the other leaders of our church have failed at reaching out, at building real, lasting, meaningful relationships with others, at being missional; we have hard slogging to do in the way of transforming ourselves. That includes me, Chief of All Sloggers. Tally ho!

Veteran's Day

Today is Veteran's Day. More than 60 years ago, my father, Roland Norris, served in the US Army Air Force. The photos to the left (click on them, they are pretty cool) are of my Dad; he was the real deal, a Captain, a training pilot, and a B17 Air Sea rescue pilot.

oday, it is not quite popular to celebrate heroes of conflict. I have no hesitation. I am thankful for, and proud of my Dad. Because he, and countless others served, our world has taken a safer path.

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