May is a month of transitions for many people. May comes with all kinds of promises and hopes. High School and college graduations provide their ceremonies with pomp and circumstance. Yet, for all the mortar board tossing and high celebration, there is the tomorrow where a career has to start or a job has to be found. For high schoolers, decisions are tough; college, military, tech school, or labor force. Coming to the end of one phase of life that has consumed our attention and energy and entering another phase is exciting and disconcerting. What was familiar and comfortable is now not available. Some will encounter boot camp and leaving home. Other will experience heading to college in another town or state. Some will stay home and commute to a local college campus. Some just want to be on their own and will find a job and an apartment.
For others of another decade, it might mean the finishing of a career, retiring, and wondering what comes next. Those retiring have the opportunity to explore new avenues of their life; possibly travel, or starting a new vocation or art. May is full of change and hope. Summer is straight ahead, but no time offers more opportunity for change than May.
In our church calendar, I have learned that May is a time of conclusion. By that I mean, it is difficult to make major progress or change as a church during the summer. Oh, it can happen, but the building process kind of plateaus for the summer.
It has proven that the transitions in family deeply effect the progress of the church. We have kids that are graduating. Will they go away? Will they stay in the area? Will they continue to attend church? Will they be involved in some way? Or, will their experience as a member of the church be so shallow that they only came because their parents made them? Historically, the church loses the 18-25 year old. They go away, sadly, because of many reasons. Some of them include moving away for military or school, some of them are the young adult phase where they want to experience the world without the restrictions of parents and/or the church culture. For some, it is a loss of faith and the acceptance of the secular view of the world. There are probably more, but that is to name a couple. Personally, the church does little to address that issue. Maybe we can.
The college-career age is the least addressed phase of Christian life. Some colleges have good campus ministries. There are some groups that really help military recruits, but the world in both of those cases is calling loudly to our youth. There are such specific needs at that age. There is the drive to be independent. There is usually the need for social interaction with the opposite sex. Male and female relationships dominate the agenda, conversation, and the time. Exploring the limits is often part of the mantra. Extreme sports, adventure, speed, adrenaline, and the party consume the consciousness of the young adult. But as Solomon said, most of it is vanity.
However, most people survive and grow and find their way. Later, many return to their faith and return to the church. Often it comes after the first child arrives, the awakening to the need of training a child in the way he should go begins to take effect. The, “I want my kid to be better than me” takes hold.
Can we avoid all that somehow? I would like to think so. It is one of those areas where there is much to be done. Can the church be comfortable with young adults looking for a mate? Could we find a place for that to happen besides a bar, a wild party, or some tawdry concert? Now there is a challenge for the church. Do we have to have a mega church to address that age? Do we need to live in a college town to think about that age? Well, in my book, not everyone goes to college or the service, but they still go through 18-25.
Just so you know, I am thinking out loud here and do not have a particular plan, but would like to. Historically, this church has lost many good young adults for various reasons. It is sad because I know there were future leaders that were lost for this work. I pray we see a return and a raising up of more young adults.
But back to my thoughts. We work hard with our children. We have a youth ministry that we pour into. They graduate and there is nothing. This is not a problem of The River alone. It is church across the nation, world.
I feel like the question becomes, “Whom will I send and who will go for me?” I would like to see someone who has a passion for this group of good young adults and would pour themselves into it. I would really like to keep our young people connected and involved. I know the need and I would like to see it addressed so that this church does not lose its upcoming leaders.