I am blessed in the fact that I get to spend a lot of time with many different groups of people. If you have heard me speak you know I am loud, blunt, and real. This style doesn’t agree with some folk, but one group who seems to love me is the 20somethings. Especially the ones with crazy hair or tattoos!
So I get to have great discussions with them. Since I consider myself a student of culture, I always have some sort of informal sociological study going on in my head. So one of the things I often discuss with this group is “why aren’t more of your friends here?”
I am a firm believer that we learn the most from our harshest critics. Here are the common thoughts I usually get expressed to me:
- They think church folk aren’t very smart – They don’t mean dumb. They mean we make the world too simple. They seem to be ok with not having all the answers for life.
- Church people are too mean – “All they know is what we stand against,” one young man told me. “They don’t know what we stand for”
- You have to be perfect to go to church – There is a sense that you have to have your life in order before a church will accept you.
- Church people are (fill in the blank) ist – racist, classist, homophobic, etc.
- Church is boring – I always follow up when I hear this. What do you mean? One young lady said “I read the Bible and there is all this awesome stuff happening. Here all we get is a light show. I would drag my friends here if the Acts stuff was happening!”
I also ask them why they come. “Your friends aren’t here but you are,” I say. “Why?” They give a variety of answers but there is really only one theme – somebody in the church was there for them. “There for them” meant different things to different people, but the point was that person (or people) showed care through the good times and the bad. And because of that they decided to overlook everything else. Basically, relationships.
Sometimes things just ain’t that hard.