I’m a rare breed: a 19 year old active member of the United Methodist Church. The membership statistics of the UMC are alarming: nearly 50% of our members are over 60 years old, while only 5% are in the age bracket of 18-24. I’m a member of the coveted “young adult” age group. The church can’t seem to figure out what to do with me, but they know they can't do without me, so they attempt to figure me out. Research is done and articles are written about me. I’m studied, discussed, and charted. But I have to be honest: sometimes it feels like my church is more concerned with keeping me where I am than knowing who I am. By relying on statistics to decode the mystery of young adults, the UMC has overlooked its greatest resource…young adults.
I've read countless articles about how to get young adults into the UMC and how to keep us here. But very rarely have I been engaged in discussion about this issue by members and leaders of my church. Some of the articles have been excellent, others not so much. But at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter how inspiring or accurate an article is…a great article is no substitute for a human being. If you want to understand the needs of young adults in the church, get to know the young adults in your local church. If there aren't any young adults in your local church (or even if there are!), get to know young adults across the connection! We are living, breathing resources. The ministry of the United Methodist Church has infused our lives with the grace of God and shaped our faith journey every step of the way. Ask us about the role the church has played in our lives and the role we hope it will play in the future. Ask us about the vision that God has given us for the future of this great church. Ask us what we love this church for, and what we love this church in spite of. Ask us to explain our worship preferences, and ask us what we think we’ll be singing in 20 years. Ask us what the sacraments mean to us, and ask us how scripture has guided the course of our lives. Ask us what it means to be United Methodist, and ask us what questions we have about our tradition. Ask us who God is and who God says we are. Ask us anything.
We are more than a statistic.
We are an untapped resource.
We have been placed in the United Methodist Church for such a time as this.
Pray peace. Make peace. Live peace.