My wife and I have always related well to young people. Throughout our marriage we have been involved in various types of ministry to teenagers or young adults. In keeping with that trend, we are currently part of a new church that meets on the University of Hartford campus. My son-in-law, Logan, is the pastor of this new church and I am his co-pastor. Though not exclusively focused on reaching students, the congregation does include a large percentage of young people and appears to be poised for significant growth from that segment of the community.
This past Sunday Logan was out of town speaking at churches in South Carolina in the hopes of finding partners to assist us in our church planting ministry. Since Logan was gone, I had the honor of leading the whole service and preaching. Since I love to preach, this was a great joy. We had a larger than normal crowd, including some first time visitors and a good spirit during the service. I was pretty excited about how things went.
After the service was over, I engaged several of the students in conversation. One of the young men said something to me that made me want to shout with joy, and cry, at the same time. He said, “I like the way this church has two pastors. One who is young and hangs out with us and talks to us by text and stuff and another pastor who is old, but full of wisdom.” I am pretty sure the student meant it as a complement. (I hope!!!!) But, at 46 years of age, I am not sure I like being referred to as “old.” That is the part that made me want to cry. I do not think of myself as “old” at all, but I guess that is all relative. On the other hand, I wanted to shout for joy at the “full of wisdom” part of his comment. It is not so much that I think I actually am full of wisdom, but the fact that this student saw GREAT VALUE in sitting under the teaching of an “old” person who was “full of wisdom.”
In today’s post-modern culture in which young adults watch a ten minute video on YouTube on any given subject and then think they are the authoritative expert on whatever issue the video was about, it is reassuring to know that at least some young adults still see “wisdom” as valuable and as something that “old” people have to offer. If more young people think like this young man does, there may yet be hope for our culture.
NOTE: I share a lot of ideas about how to reach young adults in my book Mission Possible: Reaching the Next Generation through the Small Church.