take back the church

So I have been thinking a lot lately about what many young adults have been talking about, in various forums and forms, regarding their involvement or non-involvement in the church. I hear or read people saying that the church doesn’t recognize their gifts or won’t let them be involved. They say that the church isn’t “relevant” to them, that they don’t like the worship style or the preaching or the lack of community involvement. Our criticisms are of every level of the church, from local congregations to mission centres to church headquarters. I readily admit to being critical myself of various aspects of the church at it’s various levels.

I hear the complaints and see the suggestions but sincerely wonder how many young adults are putting muscle or brain power behind attempting to address their own concerns. I can only speak from my own experience, but I can tell you that when I’ve been sincerely and seriously concerned about some aspect of church life, I have stepped in to make change.

My intention with this post is not to brag about things I’ve done, I’m constantly guilty of the sins of apathy and avoidance of responsibility. I also know that I am not the only one working hard at this, some of my fellow bloggers here are valiantly working for change. My desire here is to lay forth a challenge to my fellow young adults to, in a sense, “take back the church.”

I steal this “take back” phraseology quite intentionally from the movement against violence against women where “take back the night” encourages women to go into the very spaces where violence has occurred and reclaim them as safe spaces. I think we can draw similarities between that movement and our experiences of church.

I’ll be honest and say that I have experienced emotional and spiritual violence in this church that I love so dearly. I have at times contemplated leaving for another spiritual home. But instead of turning away I have chosen instead to remain in it and work to change it from within. The difficult discernment of whether to stay or go is one countless Christian feminists have faced for a number of generations now: is this institution flawed at its heart and irredeemable, or can it indeed be changed?

No doubt if you are reading this post you too have likely lived through this stay-or-go discernment at some point in your life. When you decided to stay (if you decided to stay, which I don’t necessarily presume of you!), what commitments did you make or have you since made to aiding in the transformation of the church? I ask this because I think that is the key piece of choosing to stay: choosing your commitments.

One commitment I chose was education, both for myself and now for others as well. I truly believe that theological education can add depth, quality, sensitivity, and richness to church life. Understanding and feeling connected to the wide spectrum of Christians who have gone before and will come after us puts current dilemmas and conflicts into perspective and teaches us how best to face today as a flawed institution. My education has led me to participating in church conferences as a presenter and sitting on church committees. With that participation I’ve been able to be a voice for young adults as well as a voice for progressive ideas that are important to my local community of faith.

I also chose to stay active in a congregation and to attend even on the days when I know I will be offended by what the person delivering the sermon says, even when I know people will ask impertinent questions, even when I know I am not at my best. In doing that I’ve discovered and cultivated a love for my fellow congregants that goes beyond anything I’ve experienced, and in that love they’ve also seen and respected my commitment to them. Just because I’m not asked to take on certain roles or responsibilities doesn’t mean I don’t step up and do them anyway. I find that most people are relieved and excited to have a young adult taking on positions of responsibility, and they are willing to be guinea pigs for my worship experiments and Christian education offerings because they know I love them and because they love me.

What I don’t understand is the complaints many young adults have about not being allowed to share their gifts in congregations. I know many young adults who, once they discovered their gifts and passions, were warmly received into leadership and appreciated for their gifts. Of course there are always people who are insensitive or condescending, but my words of encouragement would be to not let those few unappreciative folks get in the way of your full participation in the community.

Change rarely happens quickly, and I am probably frustrated by the slow pace more often than not. However, in small yet significant ways I can see how young adults are indeed taking back the church, claiming it as theirs today and not just tomorrow. It takes boldness, tenacity, hard work and a measured amount of naive idealism, but change is possible. Believe in yourself as much as you believe in the need for change, and then make your commitment. It does not have to be huge, just something that will tap into your passions and your desires for the church.

What is your commitment? What are you going to do to make change happen?

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38 comments on “take back the church

  1. Shannon,

    What a wonderful post. I resonate many of your struggles, questions, and responses. Even as a mission center president, I too struggle with leaving. It might be hard for others to relate to, but being in this position actually intensifies the struggle to hang in.

    I am personally excited by your reference to the struggle of Christian feminists. I, too, have relied on the decisions of early feminists like Ruether and Letty Russell to remember: this struggle has gone before me and will come again. I want to quote your question because it is eternal. Unlike a door that opens and shuts, this one keeps revolving as new generations arrive and the challenges change: “Is this institution flawed at its heart and irredeemable, or can it indeed be changed?”

    In the end, I think the angst young adults feel about participation in the church are the challenges adults young and old have to contend with in any volunteer community. The CofC is not a nation. We have no prison, police force, or military. People can come and go. It’s strength is its vision and tradition (which, like all tradition, changes). It’s glue is its relationships and ministry.

    Joining in and contributing to the future of a completely volunteer community – where everyone is there on their own accord; where people can come and go; where participation is the life and death of the group – is full of risks. Participation in a small church is a public affair, with few protections except the love of the people. Your post witnesses to that.

    Taking the risk outscores being resentful when it comes to making a difference. I’ve had to struggle with that. And, I’ve found its true outside as well as within the church.

    We have to be better, however, at supporting each other. Young adults are right to remind us. I remember my last summer internship at Graceland in 1992. I was assigned to a congregation that summer. One of my responsibilities was to give a sermon one Sunday. It was not my first sermon, but I poured my heart into it. The Sunday I gave it, it was hot. I wore a nice polo and decent pair of shorts. Despite the heat, I stood up and passionately expounded on my favorite scripture from behind the pulpit. I shared my testimony of God’s love, and asked the congregation to believe and commit to it with me. I was an ordained Teacher.

    At the end of the service, I was anxious but eager to hear people’s feedback. The pastor in charge of my internship came up to me, shook my hand, and could only comment on my poor decision to wear shorts. At the back of the church in the presence of others, he admonished me about proper attire. That was all.

    I struggle to find words for the feeling I covered up as I absorbed the impact of the pastor’s words. I can still feel it in my stomach. It was a mix of rage at him, and unspeakable personal pain and shame. He had not broken my will, but deeply wounded my soul. Simultaneously, I knew this man embodied why the church was failing in North America. And yet, he successfully made me question whether I really had anything to offer God’s people or the church.

    I will never forget that experience.


    • FireTag says:


      The very same thing happened to me about 40 years in the richest congregation and second largest (about 350) congregation in Detroit Stake. I dressed as I did (dress slacks, dress shirt, but no tie) not because of the heat, but because I was intentionally preaching about how we let external appearances get in the way of hearing what our own youth were trying to tell us, on “youth day”, no less.

      Although I had regularly been on the Stake rotation for preaching as a guest minister in congregations beyond my own, calls were quietly made to the SP that day and I was equally quietly dropped from the rotation.

      I could end this story by pointing out that I’m still here, and that congregation collapsed long ago, but there’s a better ending. Some 20 years later I was on a trip passing through Knoxville on a Sunday, and went to church. There, a now elderly saint came up to me and told me she had heard that sermon in Detroit many years ago and had found it the most meaningful sermon she’d ever heard.

      Sometimes, you only have to “take back the one”.

      Although I

    • John Hamer says:

      I think it’s very natural for young adults to misunderstand the real/operative nature of the church-as-a-volunteer organization. When you’re a child, you assume that institutional structures are permanent, immovable, and closed. Teenagers in a church have to live within boundaries that are essentially fixed beyond their control. But like the proverbial domesticated elephant that remembers that it was too weak to pull up a leg chain and thus doesn’t try as an adult, the young adult has power in the church that he or she does not imagine.

      One of the reasons many young adults never figure it out is this very natural function of boundary maintenance you encounter. You summon every ounce of passion to preach your heart out in the hopes of inspiring your fellows, and you are reproached for “improper” attire. Just remember: the folks who reflexively maintain those boundaries know not what they do and we should forgive them. Ultimately, those behaviors are meaningless. What was important was your passion. And the fact that Matt is now Mission Center President, that Shannon is a pastor, that Barb is director of the Kirtland Temple, proves that the passion is valued for its true importance by the underlying/practical power structure of the church.

      The church is here for the taking. But we shouldn’t imagine that the taking will be easy. Congregations are human things, and all of your actions — even positive, energizing, helpful actions — will inevitably face reactions. Oh, we don’t do that, that’s not how that is done, if we do that we’ll just upset folks! Don’t get discouraged by inevitable boundary maintenance. It’s natural, but irrelevant. Ultimately, with patience, love, effort, and example, you’ll illustrate to the congregation what you know is important.

  2. bewarethechicken says:

    Just be glad you’re not gay.

    • chicken, don’t know who you’re responding to. But, don’t forget, you don’t know who is or isn’t. That’s the politics of the closet. Particularly in the church. How do you know any of us is not? Perhaps I live in the closet, or am sexually deviant in some other way?

      • bewarethechicken says:

        Guess I was just thinking that – especially these days – the notion that the church’s big theological problem driving the youth and young adults away is their intolerance of short pants – was a little sadly ironic.

        Not your fault – just feeling depressed about it these days.

    • John Hamer says:

      Well, I’m gay and I’m very glad I’m gay. I know you heterosexual people can’t help how you were born and we don’t think any the less of you for it, but I would never wish your condition on anyone.

    • mattfrizzell says:

      We are one in our despair, chicken.

      • bewarethechicken says:

        I heard about your stance on this issue in your area. I’m always proud of those who seek justice.

        Thank you

  3. In our congregation, we welcome any young adult that has something he/she has to offer. We have asked the children 8, 6 and 5 to receive the offering and the 8 year old plays the violin beautifully. The five year old has a clear fine voice and often sings for us.

    We have four youth that we love to use to read scripture.

    We have a person who has attended for twelve years (he doesn’t believe in church membership) who preaches every quarter.

    We welcome all who come to come dressed as they please.

    Perhaps you young folks are in the wrong congregations. :)

  4. Shannon says:

    Thanks for all your comments everyone.

    I am thinking about John’s comment about congregations being made up of human beings. Last weekend I went to see the movie Angels and Demons and there was a great comment near the end by one of the cardinals about how the Church is God’s but it is run by “men” (for Catholics that gendered term is appropriate) and therefore flawed.

    I struggle with talking about ecclesiology – what we believe about the church – because the church is at the same time a reflection of God’s desires for us to be in communion with one another and God, and some would say that church is divinely ordained, and yet it is also a very human institution. Where does the God part end and the human part begin? I guess that’s a good question for a lot of situations! A question to take to meditation time!

  5. Doug Gregory says:

    I am reminded that Christ lived every day with some number of women and men for three years, diligently trying to prepare them to hear and to receive the Good News. After the resurrection, it seems they spent almost as much time arguing with each other about how to interpret that Good News experience as they did in sharing it. Sound familiar?

    If we accept that CofC’s mission is about restoration, reconciliation, and healing of the spirit, then the question becomes how do we respond to Christ’s call to us concerning those things? Have we forgiven those who have offended us? Have we allowed our spirits to be restored and healed? Have we reconciled our understanding that none of us are perfect with the idea that we gather together to share this Good News? Paul suggested that we be slow to take offense, and I think that is wisdom.

    Not all of those who followed Gandhi could remain non-violent, but he worked with them and loved them anyway. None of us who have been taught to love as Jesus loved has learned to do so yet, but we work at it anyway. We love those in this fellowship as sister and brother because we have chosen to be in the bonds of love, not because we or others are perfect in practicing that which we propound.

    The institution is what it is, and it is becoming what you and I make it become. Not by changing others, but by – as the Mahatma shared – becoming the change we are trying to create. Like others, I stuck my face into the YA issue in Atlanta during the late 1970’s, not in confrontation, but in love. No one can stop love from having an impact, but most of us will work hard to stop someone trying to make us do something. In God’s time, and under His power, Love wins. We share, but the Spirit convicts. If you can find a better institution, go for it. I have chosen over the years to focus on loving people and helping them see through my example if there is a better way to live life. That is all I can control – ME, and my response to Christ.

  6. I must admit that I have thought many times about leaving the church, but each time I come back to the same thing that keeps me loyal. I’m a nobody in the church (I don’t hold the priesthood, I didn’t go to Graceland, I’m not personal friends with a high up member)…but I know a lot of people in the church, which gives the odd “six degrees of separation” phenonomenon where I can meet someone I’ve never met before and find that we know someone in common. It’s that sense of connection that has kept me loyal to the church, because if I joined another church, I would not have that sense of connection. I’d have to start over.

    I love this church for many other reasons. My frustration is mostly at the local congregation because they are not as friendly as other congregations I’ve attended. They just don’t seem to value what I could bring to the congregation, so I’m not enthused about going to church on Sundays when I feel more spiritually fed at home reading spiritual books and listening to my Enya CDs.

    Hopefully we can find some turnaround, for the sake of our church’s future.

  7. ladymusic says:

    Margie, for twenty years, I’ve been encouraged to play an instrument, sing, take up the offering, and even plan services and have been given an appreciative pat on the head with every experience.

    I have not, and continue to be refused the chance, to share the gospel of Christ. To serve my Savior in ministry because of the spiritual stirrings in my soul.

    What the young adults are protesting, in my experience is *precisely* the attitude you’ve shared here. That somehow the temporal gifts we have are enough. That the “grown-ups” will take care of the important things, and we should be satisfied sitting on the sidelines.

    We’re HERE. We BELIEVE. Often, stronger and more passionately than those in the pulpit. The reason my YA friends are leaving are not because of political issues but because they’re frustrated with the continued limitations faced in our home congregations. They’d rather be in a different church and minister to their neighbors and needy than fight for permission to minister in the Church.

    There are a few young adults that have become leaders. I know most if not all of them. And I’m very, very thankful to them. But there are more- many, many more- who are ready and willing to serve. “Here am I, SEND ME!”

  8. We have non members who are encouraged to preach. In fact, one of them did that just yesterday. We have very few young adults but we have given them the opportunity to plan services and preach if they have a message. So far, none of them have taken us up on it.

    • ladymusic says:

      Of course, I can’t comment on your own congregation. In my current location, non-members are allowed to do *nothing* and non-priesthood aren’t allowed to preach.

      But the details aren’t important. I’ve been in three congregations in eight years, and three congregations during my college years.

      The overall outlook of the church is grim, when you look at the numbers. Mike Hoffman was visiting once, he mentioned that the TOTAL number of ordained people below the age of…. (not sure) 40 was about 32. I can name 70% of them BY NAME!

      Excluding my husband, the next “youngest” priesthood member in the congregations we’ve been in have all been at least 50.

      Honestly, how far are you from KC? East or West? I know of at least six young adults that would be happy to visit your congregation. :)

      The exception to this has been in the camping program. Ironically, it’s the young adults that are directing camps because the adults don’t think it’s worth the time off work.

      • I know far more than 32 ordained minsiters under 40. There are more than that who are friends of mine on facebook. Am I reading that stat right?

        I could equally say that young adults aren’t being pastors or preachers because they don’t want the responsibility of showing up every Sunday and would prefer the once or twice a year thing for a week at a time. I don’t think it’s fair to assume motives on either side.

  9. We even had a non member who teaches our adult class.

  10. I have been in congregations all over North America and have never been in one that didn’t encourage young adults to participate in any way they wanted. I’ve served communion when I held the office of Teacher, because the congregation wanted me to preside and figured it was ok (little did we know that performing a sacrament without the FP blessing is a silencable offense).

    I sit through sermons of young adults all the time. Young adults teach sunday school.

    Clearly, ladymusic, you have had different experiences than I. I too know many young adult leaders. I’m not sure what you’d like the Church, as an organization to do?

  11. I’m sorry to say we are in southeast Kansas. Three and a half hours from Independence.

    One of the problems I’ve noticed in the Independence area is that some of the priesthood never get to preach. There are way too many of them. We have seven priesthood who preach and three deacons who choose not to and then that one who is not even a member. That means each of us gets to preach twice a quarter…if we have no guest ministry.

    Now I am scheduled out in the Mission Center twice this next quarter and another woman is scheduled out once and we have three scheduled in here. But we have invited our young adults to share their message and would be delighted to have them do so. So far, they choose not to do so.

  12. I’m going to take a huge leap and here and say what I think may be a part of the problem.

    Young adults of both sexes are working outside the home now. If they have children, they have a very hectic life. They have day care to deal with, laundry, cleaning, yard work, child care, dancing lessons, baseball, marketing, shopping, all do to after work hours. Many are stressed to the point that Sunday morning seems to be the only time to rest.

    Then there is TV, cell phones, DVD’s, movies, computers, twitter, facebook, your blogs,….way too much overload. So most of your generation does not even attend church school or church. It’s just not worth it to many.

    I would love…literally love… to have more young adults in our congregation. I would use them anyway they would like to be used. I don’t even care if they’re members or not. I don’t even care if they’re priesthood. In fact, if the truth were known, (and here it goes), I don’t even think the hierarchy of priesthood is necessary for most everything.

  13. I’m going to take a leap too and tell you my opinion. I hear ladymusic saying what I hear from a lot of young adults, that their congregation/Mission Center/Church will only let them:

    – perform music
    – take up the offering
    – plan services
    – direct camps

    but they are not allowed to “share the gospel of Christ.”

    What does that even mean? What do young adults want to do? Surely no one is prohibiting you from organizing a group at church to volunteer at a soup kitchen or do some yard work for elderly members of the community. So in what way are you being refused to share the gospel?

    Maybe you are talking about preaching. If I had a nickle for every person who left congregations that I was a part of over the years for not being allowed to speak as much as they’d like, I’d be a rich rich chicken. Speaking on Sunday is one small aspect of “sharing the gospel” and people are denied the right to speak for any number of reasons. My personal experience is that the most common reason is – they are a poor speaker.

  14. ladymusic says:

    Wow. I am astonished at the responses so far.

    BTC, at lunch my husband said that it was more likely the 30 and under age group. That will change the numbers a bit.

    Margie, I’d love to come visit.

    So, I’ve heard several ideas and suggestions. Let’s look at them:

    BTC: “young adults aren’t being pastors or preachers because they don’t want the responsibility of showing up every Sunday and would prefer the once or twice a year thing for a week at a time”

    *There is some measure of that, of course. What about the ones you *do* see weekly, surely they’re not so apathetic? What about the RCLP/CCLP program, that had to change it’s guidelines to match the “needs” of the congregations? The intent was to put young adults, Graceland graduates, into a leadership position after graduation. If they served one year for each grant year, the grant was forgiven.

    But young adults couldn’t FIND a place to serve. They were turned away. The congregations couldn’t accept a twenty-something in a position of leadership. So the CCLP program started to adapt the rules. Teaching Sunday school counted toward service. Playing music for the service was acceptable. Working at the historic sites became accepted. None of these were within the guidelines until the churches forced the issue. So I really don’t think it’s just my perspective.

    Margie: “Young adults of both sexes are working outside the home now…. (clip) Many are stressed to the point that Sunday morning seems to be the only time to rest… (clip) To most of your generation does not even attend church school or church. It’s just not worth it to many.”

    *The answer to this seems obvious to me. Make it worth it! This is Christ and the message of salvation we’re talking about! It speaks to a much larger issue in the church to me. I thought it was a foundational belief that salvation is worth the time to devote to worshiping Him. In addition, a good portion of the young adults aren’t coming to *our* church, but are going to church somewhere. So that seems to indicate that it is worth it, if they’re getting what they need.

    “I don’t even think the hierarchy of priesthood is necessary for most everything.”

    *I don’t either. It’s not one before the other, and we’d be off track if we limited it to just the lack of ordination. But it is a symptom of the larger problem, I think.

    BTC again:
    “…but they are not allowed to “share the gospel of Christ.”

    What does that even mean? What do young adults want to do? Surely no one is prohibiting you from organizing a group at church to volunteer at a soup kitchen or do some yard work for elderly members of the community. So in what way are you being refused to share the gospel?”

    *This is, by far, the most disappointing comment. It feels like you’re throwing a bone, and young adults should be satisfied with this. Many YA are already volunteering in the community. What’s wrong with wanting space and opportunity specifically IN the church? In the Herald’s coverage of the YA meeting at the Temple, Becky Savage said that we could have church at Starbucks.

    Sure, we can. Nobody is questioning that. But when we want worship in the church, it seems we’re suggesting something really radical.

    Finally, a comment about preaching from BTCthat I can’t believe is a comment about just the young adults.

    But yes, preaching. But so much more, too. All I’m really asking is that the church provide vibrant worship for everyone, and that the young adults are ready to accept the charge to provide that worship. There’s so much talent and passion to be tapped into, and I feel frustrated that it’s not being used.

    Let’s put it this way. There’s been much discussion about the decrease of finances and membership in the North American church. I, as a young adult, see a magnificent way to address it. The YA church is standing in wait. All you have to do is ask.

  15. Ah, if it were only that easy! Our young adults attend maybe once every four to six weeks. We offer powerpoint hymn singing and videos. We have short plays and many opportunities for them. One woman is the manager of three Bank of Americas and works many Sunday mornings when she can get something done. Her husband is an engineer. They live 23 miles from the church. We built our new church centrally located so everyone would have to drive to it so it isn’t like we all don’t drive there.

    Another young adult is a doctor and she is a single mother. She comes about every six weeks too. She is a priesthood member and volunteered to preach Sunday before last (Father’s day) and did a terrific job for her first opportunity….even for any opportunity. She’s a deacon.

    These people are BUSY! The young couple has dancing lessons, school affairs ,laundry, cooking, His parents live in Independence, Missouri. When I suggested he might give the sermon some Sunday, he looked at me like I was crazy.

    We have four or five who attend some Sundays (maybe once a month)that are visitors. I take her to Independence Kansas three times a week for her physical therapy. (she was bit by a pit bull on the heel five weeks ago). They seem to love us and the church. They are just BUSY!

    We have several social events each quarter…picnics, basket dinners, cookouts. We have an early breakfast each Sunday morning at 9:30. And we have variety in our services. These people are just too involved in their families and work lives to be there that much.

    I have tried to visit them but they are too busy to have me come. I send out a weekly letter to keep everyone up to date. I send out a quarterly newsletter and also a quarterly schedule. So it isn’t that we don’t stay in touch.

    They are just meeting themselves coming and going.

  16. And, by the way, ladymusic, are you aware that there are only 18,000 tithe payers in the church? And most of them are in their 70s, 80s and 90s. That’s scary. When will your generation begin to be financial supporters of the church? I’m sure some are now but obviously, not near enough.

    We 70 year olds will die in the next ten years or so. The 80 year olds may have another ten years and the 90 year olds are hanging on by a thread.

    So in ten or fifteen years at the outside, the church will be gone. It is my understanding that the master plan is that when the church no longer has financial resources, they will begin selling off our buildings. When that day comes…if it comes…I hope I am gone. I (and our congregation of 37) have worked hard to pay off our new building and it will not be ours on that day. They hold the deed at headquarters.

    • ladymusic says:

      Margie, I think that’s my point exactly. The church is dying, and there’s nobody to step into the leadership. Your YA group may be too busy, but that’s not the case everywhere, for everyone.

      I don’t think it’s the case in your congregation (whew, their schedules make me tired!), but so often the young adults are written off, because they’re not attending often enough, and very few people think that it’s possible to get them to attend. Frankly, that attitude drives YA away farther. In fact, it was youth rather than YA, but a church leader said a few years ago that there were “no youth in the church.” With about 12 of them sitting close enough to kick him. They should have, too. ;)

      Who would want to invest time into a church that isn’t even thankful they’re in attendance?

      If we are to have more money, we need more givers, not more from those already giving. So, let’s be a vibrant ministry. I honestly believe that people can’t help but be drawn by the Light of Christ, if we’re sharing it. I’ve seen it happening in congregations that have been able to do this. There’s no missionary work, just the Light drawing them in.

      I hoep it’s clear that I have a testimony and ministry to share. It has been quite simply refused by those who hear it. At some point, I will have to choose to go elsewhere. I cannot be silent.

  17. I guess I still don’t hear what the complaint is or the suggested solution.

    Again, what leadership position within the congregation do you want? You say you are allowed to plan services – so plan them how you like. What is the problem? You feel I’m throwing you a bone (I’m a young adult myself but so I guess I’m throwing it at myself) but I don’t know what that bone is, and not sure what it is besides the bone you want.

    All I hear are standard platitudes. If you could articulate your complaint in some manner other than “We’re here” or “I want to share the Gospel” and maybe even suggest some practical solutions, maybe there could be some change. As long as you are just complaining about not being offered “leadership roles”(whatever they are)and want “vibrant worship” (although they allow you to prepare the services) then I don’t know how you can be helped.

    • ladymusic says:

      BTC, it’s because I’m being told there is no problem. THAT is the problem!

      Truly. My largest complaint locally is that I want something more, something deeper in church. But it’s a pattern I’ve seen in so many places. And I hear my friends despairing of the same concerns.

      One in particular planned a service that was too offensive, (it was not, not at all) and was refused the chance to share it.

      So it’s not the title, it’s not the role, but the willingness of the congregation to accept service.

      • I’m not telling you there is no problem. Just trying to understand what the problem is. If the problem is within your particular congregation, then all you can do is work to change it. But to conflate local problems to world-wide church problems driving away YA in general, seems to be a gross generality.

  18. If you want to drive three and a half hours to Coffeyville, Kansas, we could schedule you on September 27th. Bring a carload of your friends if you want to. After the services we will plan to have a cookout.

    We’d be delighted to hear your sermon.

  19. In fact, if you and your friends would like to plan the service…we’d love that too.

  20. ladymusic says:

    That may actually be workable! And the friend that I mentioned to BTC isn’t too far away from you, actually.
    I found a way to contact you. Thanks so much.

  21. If you need my e-mail address I can send it to you. Also, I will need your name and the name of your friends. We have much to discuss. I hope it can work out for you.

  22. Doug Gregory says:


  23. ladymusic says:

    I give up, BTC. Did you miss where I said it wasn’t just here, just me? And I didn’t even say it was the only problem. I think the issue of sexual identity is a far more heated and painful topic at this point.

    I’m working on the problem, be sure of that. I’m driving a long, long way to visit Margie. I’m speaking out. I’m doing what I can. There are still roadblocks and frustrations along the way.

  24. No, I give up. You say you can’t take leadership rolls and that’s why YA are leaving. When I ask for examples, you point to your own congregation, which has nothing to do with why YA are leaving, in general, and your congregational experiences certainly don’t conform to official church policy or to, say , my experiences.

    So when I point this out, you say it’s not just your congregation, that its others, moreover, its for other reasons – like social issues. But in your first comment you said:

    “The reason my YA friends are leaving are not because of political issues but because they’re frustrated with the continued limitations faced in our home congregations.”

    My congregation doesn’t limit YA. The church in general doesn’t seem to limit YA (heck I think there is even a young punk who is president of the Chigago Mission Center). If you are speaking generally, I just want to square up what you’re saying with what I see. If you are speaking about your particular area/congregation, then I’m happy to discuss that, but when I asked specifically about what your problems were there, when it seems like you are able to participate in most, if not all areas, you get defensive and change you argument.

    I’m sorry your experience is not a positive one. If I could understand your issue, I might be able to help. But it doesn’t seem like you really understand it.

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