The phone rang early in the morning as breakfast was being prepared. The shaky teenage voice on the other end said "Something is wrong with my mom, can you help?" Within minutes my wife was out of the house on the way to help. After several hours in the Emergency Room, we learned that the mom had a mild stroke. She spent several days in the hospital but made a full recovery.
The Facebook status said "Can't wait till he's gone." Later in the day it read "He's gone and we don't know where." Text messaging produced no response and the young man was incognito for several hours. When we came back to our home later in the day, there he was on the couch in our living room, safe and sound. We were glad he was safe but asked if he had called his parents and told them where he was. He did, and they said he could stay at our home overnight.
It was nearly midnight when the text message came through. A nervous 19 year old young man was worried about his sick family member. She really needed to see a doctor. They did not have a car. Could we take her to the hospital? A quick drive through the fog on a rainy night got the girl safely to the hospital for receive the care that was needed.
"I only got 8 hours of work last week," said the young adult, "I have not eaten all day." A trip to McDonald's and a swipe of the debit card through the machine fixed that right away and a meal was shared together as brothers in Christ.
These are but four examples of numerous real experiences my wife and I have had with young adults between the ages of 15-19 in the past six weeks. Many young adults are hurting. They don't know where to turn. While we may not be able to solve all their issues, many of them can be handled with a little bit of time and a whole lot of love.
When other churches ask me to share our methods with them of how our church has attracted so many young adults, I give them a number of answers. I tell them they need some upbeat music. I tell them they have to learn to listen. I tell them they need to be willing to tackle the tough questions and deep challenges of life. I tell them to let the young adults be involved in leadership. I tell them to use lots of technology and video. I tell them to make their sermons relevant to daily life. But mostly, I tell them to love young adults.
If our churches want to reach young adults, we must love young adults. Love is not just a word; it is a lifestyle. Love requires relational interaction with each other that produces positive results. Love is something that must be demonstrated through actions. Love is something that takes time, energy and effort. Love is something that cannot be faked for long. Love is the "secret" to reaching the next generation for Christ.