This recent poll about young adults and their faith was really strange to me. This silly little paragraph that stood out the most:
"Among the 65% [of young adults] who call themselves Christian, 'many are either mushy Christians or Christians in name only,' Rainer says. 'Most are just indifferent. The more precisely you try to measure their Christianity, the fewer you find committed to the faith.'"
I don't know what a mushy Christian is. I imagine from the context of the article that it's people who use avoid words like "Jesus is my Lord and Savior" or who do yoga. The author of the article concludes that because old school notions of Christianity don't work for young folk that they are in fact not very solid in their belief(s).
As a 30 year old pastor, I must confess that I am often the youngest person at most church services I preach at or lead. I often feel like I'm not actually an adult at these meetings and gatherings because of the marked age difference. Yet, I often hear that the church wants to engage young folk (read those 30 and below) and become more welcoming and diverse.
Yet, when we young folk with our full diversity of sexuality, gender expression, body art, piercings, ADHD, physical abilities and yearning to mash up some of the spiritual practices and experiences from other faith traditions that help us understand our Christian stories and rituals better show up in their pews, very few churches are willing to let us be fully who we are. Or if they do, they stare, make comments or smoother you.
In the early 60's the National Council of Churches faced a very similar reality. Young folk were not interested in church and worship that did not speak to their experiences. As a result, churches adapted, experimented and were transformed by the contributions of young folk. The sixties also brought a lot of experimentation and over-indulgence that the church still seems to be recovering from. Perhaps the boundaries got pushed too far in the 60's, but I hope that the baby boomers who got this freedom when they were young will be gracious enough to trust a new generation with the future of the church.
Like it or not, we are the future (and present) of the church.
I invite anyone interested in exploring ways we can claim the moving and meaningful parts of the ancient Christian tradition while making it fresh and relevant to our daily lives, to join me and the fabulous Tommy Dillon as a part of the Community of Travelers (starting September 12th at 5pm).
You can participate in person at St. Aidan's Episcopal or join us online via live stream. Mushy or not, all are welcome to worship with us!