"Use Me or Lose Me" -
Involving the Young in the Church
By Al Reimche
Use me or lose me!” This phrase keeps going through my mind as I reflect on the ideas shared during a 180 Symposium in Medford this past month. It was a special privilege to meet with six young adults from the area and hear their vision for their church. The ideas and stories we heard were positive and encouraging. One of the young adults told about her decision to go back to church after being away for a while. As she was driving to work one day she noticed an Adventist church and thought she should reconnect. However, she knew that just walking through the door without a purpose would not bring her back week after week. She contacted the pastor and stated that if there was something she could do on Sabbath mornings she would recommit to being an active member. Praise God for an insightful pastor that welcomed this young woman back into the church by involving her in a ministry each Sabbath morning.
This past month Beth and I had the opportunity to visit ReMix, one of our new companies which is comprised of a group of young adults that felt called to grow their own church. This company began as a group of young adults from one of our Spanish churches who felt a desire to have their own Sabbath services. Though it started out as just a Sabbath morning experience it has since grown into a group that is passionate about reaching the community. One of the leaders told my wife and me his story. He described how he had been disconnected from church and had been searching in the world for something meaningful, but now, through the caring support of a couple of pastors, and because of the vision of this group, he is now actively involved in leading other young adults into ministry. He is also looking into how this group can grow in other areas of metro Portland. One of the youth leaders shared with me about how, just a year ago, he had been a non-committed Christian but how he found his passion as he became involved in teaching other youth.
And just yesterday I attended the trustee committee meeting at Walla Walla University. Yes, we did the usual budget approvals and big picture visioning, but the most significant part of the day was listening to passionate students who are actively involved in developing their minds and leadership skills and hearing the university leadership talk about how to keep them involved when they leave Walla Walla. The question is not whether we have an army of youth rightly trained, but rather will we use them when they re-enter our church doors. They want to make a difference, they want to share their faith and passion, and they want to be used. Are we willing to involve them? Once again, it’s “Use me or lose me.”