Most in the youth ministry world are aware of both research and anecdotes suggesting millennials are leaving the church.
As a youth worker, this breaks my heart. I wholeheartedly believe you cannot be a solo Christian. The church is vital to our faith, to the formation of meaningful community, and for the betterment of our world. In order for students to learn this, we’ve got to regularly talk with them about why the church matters.
To do this, recently, I canceled our regular weekly youth gathering and instead, sent teens into the homes of the saints of our congregation. In preparation for this, I asked my colleagues for the names of people who they thought would be open to such an experience. I then reached out to these individuals, explained what we were doing and why, and asked if they’d be willing to participate. I made it clear they didn’t need to worry about refreshments (in fact, our students brought them baked goods) or even chairs; That our teens were adaptable and could sit on the floor if need-be. I then worked with my student leaders to write interview questions. Writing interview questions created excitement for these interviews among my student leaders. Their excitement was contagious.
During our hour-long visits with the saints, teens asked them questions about their childhood, marriage, education, work, faith, and involvement in church. Connecting with saints on their turf allowed us to interview people who were no longer able to drive at night. It also increased their comfort level, making it easier for them to share their stories with our teens. As they shared, teens heard stories about how our church has changed from those who’ve been part of it since it’s inception. They also heard about the connection between faith and the church from people far wiser than they.