Young Adult Ministry

An Online Bible Study Road Map

One of the things that we're blessed with at FUMCA is a diverse young adult program, with a lot to offer each generation of young adults.  From college students, to post college, to young careers and families, to business owners, we run the gamut of life change from the early 20s to mid-30s and beyond.  We have several small groups, but we figured it would be nice to get everybody together in one place for a study for the season of Advent.  But how do you gather people from different walks of life, with varying levels of real-life business, in one space without creating a burden?

Our answer was venturing in the online study realm.  It's not a new thing, but I noticed that not a whole lot of people are trying it in the UMC, so I thought I'd drop out a road map for what we did - because it worked.

I can't take credit for the whole thing.  Before committing to leading anything, I first reached out to a friend of mine and fellow candidate for ministry, Kyle Roberson, Online Community Developer of White's Chapel UMC in Southlake, TX.  Gotta give credit where credit is due!  Kyle has tried and researched multiple formats, so it was great to pick his brain on where to go.

In weighing options, I decided the best way to go was - free.  So, here's the who, what, when, where, why, and how of our online study.

The Why

Our church frequently facilitates seasonal, short-term studies.  They can be quite fruitful, as they can pull people from across generations and get people together that wouldn't normally study together.  But we needed something that wasn't typical, and wasn't at the church.

The Who

Young adults from 18-35, with all of the various generational changes therein.  We ended up with two college students, one graduate student, four families (all with young kids), one man without his spouse, and my wife and I.  All plugged into various small groups.

The When

We needed a time that was good for young families with kids and college students that might have a more adventurous night life.  So we landed on Monday nights during the season of Advent from 8:30 to 9:15 PM.  Short and sweet.

The What

We studied the Bible.  The focus was on the study being free and low-maintenance for participants.  It was built out of our Advent sermon series, with discussion questions generated from the message of the week.  The overall focus was on how God was calling us to turn away from the life the world calls us to into the hope we have in a repentant life in Christ.  We kept it pretty simple and focused on discussion, with three separate 'topics' each session.

Overall, the format started with gathering, prayer, reading of the scripture, discussion, and closing thoughts with motivation for the week.  We always ended with something to be thinking about or doing, some kind of response.

The How ...

We chose the Google+ Hangouts on Air as our meeting place.  It's free, and it has natural limitations that are quite helpful.  For one, it's limited to 10 computers participating in the chat itself, which is perfect for discussion.  Me, plus nine others seemed to go really well.  We had more than 10 participants on some night (several married couples), but it didn't seem to get too bogged down and people were able to participate in the discussion as they felt called to.  More people than that, however, and not everybody gets to join the discussion, which is the whole point.  Hangouts can also be recorded, which is also nice.  The Hangouts post to your Youtube account through Google (has to be set up in advance!), and they can be made private to only be shared within the group.  One thing to be careful of with the chats, is that if you don't take off the "Public" option, anybody can view the chats even if they can't participate.  We set this up to be a covenant small group, so we never wanted things to be viewed publicly.  Which brings us to the next major item for the format ...

I set up a private blog through Google Blogger as a place to post discussion questions in advance as well as the chat videos.  Blogger is very user friendly as a basic blogging platform.  You can set it up as an invite only space that can only be viewed by discussion participants.  This makes it a sacred space for discussion and sharing.  I found it to be an excellent place to post ideas, and our participants used it to prepare for discussion at their leisure.  I usually had up discussion questions the Thursday before the Monday night study, but they had the plan for the study itself (scripture and topics) before the study formally started.

Google has all the right pieces to make an online study work, but it all works best if participants have a Google account.  Again - it's FREE!

The Results

This study was a success any way you slice and dice it.  One of the things my friend Kyle counciled me on was having clear parameters for the study.  Date, time, beginning and end.  This was set up as a short term study, and people really dug that; it enabled us to dig into the themes of the season really well.  I'm seminary educated, sure, but any lay person can do what I've done to set this up and go with the proper preparation.

All in all, we had the full nine people/families participate.  I think there was only one date out of four when all were present, but many went to the videos (I posted them to the blog the day after) to get up to speed on where we were if they missed.

There were some technological hiccups along the way.  The first night we tried to use my laptop for the study, and it didn't have the processing speed to handle it.  So we had to quickly switch to my wife's Mac to start things off.  And I'll admit, even with practice, it took me a few sessions to get used to starting the chats off, for which my more fluent in Google+ wife was a saving grace.  Some had wifi issues, others had computer issues as I did.  I highly recommend doing a practice chat in advance, or having your people make sure that they have installed all of the necessary plugins for Google+ (if that's what you use) before the first chat.  I tried to be sure to put the invite out at least 5 minutes before starting to give people time to get in and settled.  You also have to have solid wifi and strong bandwidth to use this platform, but part of the benefit of sticking with the Young Adult niche was not having to do a lot of hand holding with the technology.

We concluded our run with a potluck at my house as a little family.  That was worth it in and of itself.  A lot of relationships were built that probably wouldn't have otherwise, and that's church to me.  But even if we couldn't gather in person, we proved through our time together that two or three or fifteen could gather in a space on the internet and the Lord was there.  Thanks be to God for being able to experience the Word of God and the Spirit of God in new and fun ways.

Have you ever led or participated in a study online?  How do you do it and how did it go for you?


A year and a couple of  months ago I sat down with my District Superintendent to talk about my call to ordained ministry.  I had been called to vocational ministry a long while back, but I had felt God pulling me to something new, that all of my ministry experience was prelude to a big change.

It wouldn't be long before we'd start talking about appointments, and of course, as a non-ordained person, I had a choice to say "No" at any point.  But I didn't, and with my family's support we took an opportunity to be in ministry with FUMC Arlington as a Lay Supply Pastor.  A big shock to the system.  I went from running an extremely well-established and awesomely diverse music program to living my new dream to be in relationship with my generation ... and the lowest man on the pastoral totem pole.  I am totally here to learn the basics to becoming a pastor in the UMC.

And I'm loving it.

I miss my old life in ministry sometimes, I had a ton of fun.  But ... I can finally announce that as of today, October 1, 2013, my appointment is official to FUMC Arlington as a Licensed Local Pastor, complete with all of the amazing responsibilities as a minister of word, order, and sacrament.  I've been warming up my preaching and teaching game for the last six months, but this Sunday will be my first to preside over the table.  Nervous doesn't even begin to describe things!

Sorry for the diary-like nature of this one.  But this whole thing just seems so undeserved.

I am having a total blast.  I'm thankful for the trust of my Bishop, District Superintendent, and the clergy and laity of FUMC Arlington.  I'm so thankful for the many pastors and mentors that I've been in ministry with over the last several years.

Of course, I wouldn't even begin to be on this new road without the support of my amazing wife and super fun kid.

Thanks be to God!

Discovering Discernment

Last Saturday, the fruit of nearly a year-and-a-half's work finally came to be - the first ever Central Texas Conference Discovery and Discernment Retreat.  The brainchild (and heart-child) of my wife and many others in a strong team of young adults and mentors, the retreat was set up to be a time to help young people discern where God was calling them to be in ministry.  And not just ordained ministry.

The UMC is great at discerning people into ordained ministry (kinda...) or out of ordained ministry, but as an organization, we're not as stellar at affirming the call to any and every ministry out there.  This retreat was set up as a time to embrace the call given to each of us at our baptisms; we are all called to ministry by the sacrament, sometimes we just don't know what to.

I was given the task of organizing worship for the event.  I currently don't have a band of my own as I'm into the preaching and teaching gig now, so what did I do?  I called in some of my closest and most talented friends to lead an epic-level, affirming the call event.  The last phrase being the ethos of the worship we would craft together - affirming our common call to seek justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God together.

Again, we brought this event together not to tell people that they are called, we brought 70 young people to Waco already acknowledging this.  We expected them to know that they were called - probably just what we should expect from every person who claims the name Christian, but that's another conversation.

Our key song for the day was Here's My Heart, by David Crowder, this chorus being a driver for the worship:
Here's my heart, Lord.Here's my heart, Lord.Here's my heart, Lord.Speak what is true.
It has a modern "Here I Am, Lord" vibe that really captured what we were going for in worship, and what our preacher Lance Marshall, pastor for an emerging community in Fort Worth spoke to - we're not called to be members of the kingdom of this earth.

Obviously corporate worship was a major part of the event, but the bulk of the day was spent in break out sessions for our group of 70 or so.  Speaking of 70, isn't that the number of disciples Jesus sent out in the Gospel of Luke to love and serve their neighbors?  Hmmm ...

Our 70 young people (late high school to mostly college students and a little older) spent time in sessions talking with an assembled group of experts in youth ministry, children's ministry, college ministry, apologetics, spiritual gifts assesments, going to seminary without pursuing ordination, ordained ministry as elder and deacon in the UMC, and even Bishop Mike Lowry was on hand to discuss his call to ministry (he also presided over the table during morning worship).  Each of our 'discerners' was able to attend three sessions of their choice throughout the day as they saw fit, with plenty of time at lunch and in between events just to have conversations with eachother and make connections with the leaders.

A great many of our conference staff were on hand to support our young people, from District Superintendents, District Administrators and support staff.  Many of our breakout session leaders also traveled across conference lines to support the event - and isn't that so UMC?

It was more than a year of work from beginning to end, but I left the day with so much hope.  The Holy Spirit moved in mighty ways the whole day, my wife described it as if she felt "she was sitting next to the Holy Spirit" during worship and in the holy conversations held with young people.

I'm telling you, there's hope in the UMC, if you haven't heard already.  And young people want to be a part of it.

But here's what I would ask: what are other conferences doing to call young people to ministry?  Are we telling young people that a call to ministry is just for the ordained?  Are we building up young people and telling them, "Yes, you can be a lifelong youth minister - and we'll pay you a living wage so you can."?

Our calls are as unique as the people we are, and I think it the CTC we're starting to build a church that will affirm that.  I can't wait to see where all of this goes.  The Holy Spirit is on the move in Texas, and I pray that it is being allowed to move in the universal church, that the Kingdom of God will come that much more near to us.

If you'd like to check out the social media conversation from DDR, just check out #ctcddr on Twitter, FB, and Instagram.  You can find Leanne's  write-up on the Central Texas Conference website here.

A Litany of Affirming the Call

This weekend I've been gifted the task to help lead and structure the worship for a conference-wide discernment retreat for young people in Central Texas and abroad.  It's a different kind of retreat, focused on vocational ministry in many ways, but the flip is that we're not fixated on ordained ministry as the only option.

We'll have break out sessions with leaders in ministry from our conference and many others to discuss with our young adults ministry in careers in youth ministry, children's ministry, and ordained ministry.  We'll talk about the need for educated lay people - that may even want to go to seminary just for that.

The point of the whole extravaganza is simple: we're all called to ministry, and our ministry call is as unique to each one of us.  What if ... we truly treated all members of our churches as the ministers we call ourselves?  That's the point of the weekend as we'll meet, pray, and discover where the Lord is guiding us.

At the close of the afternoon worship session, we'll be reading this litany together, as we affirm the call in one another.

A Litany of Affirming the Call

The discernment process can be a long one
     But thank God it’s not meant to be done alone
We stand here in community and we affirm together that the Lord has called each of us to ministry
     By our baptisms we are claimed by God to do good work in the Lord’s name
Our call is personal, and it is unique to each one of us
     And it is communal, as we live out our callings with those around us
Lord God, thank you for being with us as we discover who you are calling us to be
     Who you are calling us to be as a people of faith
     Who you are calling us to be as ministers of your word
The Spirit has brought us together in this place, by pulling on each of our hearts
     Maybe others have nudged us here, some have been shoved
But yes, God, we are here wondering at the plans you have for us
     So, Lord, we pray for the call put on our neighbor on our left
     We pray for the call put on our neighbor to our right
     In front of us.
     Behind us
We give God our thanks
     We thank you, God, our Creator for gifting us with our calls
     We thank you, Jesus Christ, for teaching us how to walk in the Way.
     We thank you, Holy Spirit, both for disturbing us into realizing our call, and comforting      us as we follow it.
May our Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer fill us up, as we are sent out.

"Why millennials are leaving the church"

I'll admit, I'm a fan of Rachel Held Evans.  She brings a lot of balance to the term 'Evangelical Christian' and I think her writing is to the point.  Her latest article from the CNN Belief Blog, "Why millennials are leaving the church' really isn't new information.  It's the same information that David Kinnaman breaks down in You Lost Me, and the same stuff Adam Hamilton preaches in When Christians Get it Wrong, although more conversational than Kinnaman and less preachy than Hamilton.

She also speaks from somebody who bridges a divide between Buster and Millennial, and so she can speak from a place of real-life experience.

Some quotes from the article worth noting:
I point to research that shows young evangelicals often feel they have to choose between their intellectual integrity and their faith, between science and Christianity, between compassion and holiness.

Time and again, the assumption among Christian leaders, and evangelical leaders in particular, is that the key to drawing twenty-somethings back to church is simply to make a few style updates – edgier music, more casual services, a coffee shop in the fellowship hall, a pastor who wears skinny jeans, an updated Web site that includes online giving.
But here’s the thing: Having been advertised to our whole lives, we millennials have highly sensitive BS meters, and we’re not easily impressed with consumerism or performances.

We want an end to the culture wars. We want a truce between science and faith. We want to be known for what we stand for, not what we are against.

Now these trends are obviously true not only for millennials but also for many folks from other generations. Whenever I write about this topic, I hear from forty-somethings and grandmothers, Generation Xers and retirees, who send me messages in all caps that read “ME TOO!” So I don’t want to portray the divide as wider than it is.
But I would encourage church leaders eager to win millennials back to sit down and really talk with them about what they’re looking for and what they would like to contribute to a faith community.

The word I think she's going for, but doesn't use is authenticity.  Young people want to be part of a church that isn't out to divide the world (I realize you can throw Jesus at me here, but don't), but bring it together.  Pastors that keep it real and worship leaders that aren't there just to be cool.  Liturgy that blends together the ancient and the future that's just comforting enough to get you ready to have your world rocked by the gospel of truth, justice, and peace.

I wear skinny jeans and thick-rimmed glasses when I preach, guilty, but that's because that's what I wear all the time.  And I have a prescription for the glasses, so there.

When it comes to this topic, why millennials are leaving the church, I feel like our lectionary Gospel lesson from yesterday has something to say:

So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.

Jesus, in chapter 11 of Luke, is calling on us to pray through our troubles with God constantly.  If you're struggling with reaching Millennials, knock on God's door, but also, knock on the doors of the Millennials and ask, "What can we do for you?"  There's just a little too much deciding without enough conversation.  This topic is going to be an ongoing issue until leaders start talking to the people they're trying to reach.

It's all about #millennials. No, really.

Yesterday, a super awesome editorial cartoon was put out by CNN Opinion entitled, "The generation we love to dump on."  I'll pause here so you can follow the link and go check it out.

Really.  You should.

Do it now.

Done?  Good.  I'm my humble opinion, and this is from an earlier Millennial (verging on Buster territory), this thing is legit.  And there are mountains of data to support it, just go check out anything that the Barna group has put out for the church lately.

My favorite part of this cartoon though isn't the cartoon itself, it's reading the comments below.  Comments that are disturbingly ignorant from older generations.

And the best part?  These comments from older generations are undoubtedly similar to the comments that those generations received from their parental generations.  Generational commentary passed down through the generations.

There's very little commentary on what the millennial generation could be doing for the world if given the chance.  I see myself in my personal context in the church as a bridge builder.  As a hyper-creative (a defining characteristic of this generation) that understands traditional church systems, but still gets frustrated by them, I see it as my job to bridge those of my generation and younger into life in the church.  Even though that itself can be quite frustrating, there's nothing more worth the frustration.

I read articles like this and I actually get excited about the possibilities - what can the church do with this generation?  What changes can the church make to give room to a highly creative generation who isn't motivated because there isn't room for creativity?  What can the church do for a generation that's encouraged to take on debt after debt after debt to pay for schooling that we're told is necessary and then is extremely condescended to when there aren't jobs available?

Where is the church in the career discernment process?  Where's the church when we're graduating high schoolers and college students without the basic life skills to keep it together, much less a faith that will last through the craziness of young adulthood?

What are the most common descriptors for the millennial generation from the generations before us?  Entitled and lazy.  Which begs the question - who taught us that?  You can't blame the millennial generation for taking on these characteristics when they're given no influence on the systems that they're raised in.

We have a tendency to focus on the negative.  So I'll say this -
Millennials are more passionate than they look.
Millennials want to change the world, but aren't given the resources.
Millennials would rather use their creativity for the good, rather than write blogs like this or create fun cartoons about being a millennial.
And before you say that they don't want to work hard for their money, try being a barista at Starbucks, or working at Taco Bell.

I won't lie.  This is kind of an emotional field for me.  So much so, that I made it my job in the church.

Discuss.  Let me have it if you need too!  But think: what could the church be doing differently to help the younger generations change the world?

Do you have an idea?  Make it happen.


A few months back, I had the opportunity to go to a free conference in Arlington, You Lost Me Live offered by David Kinnaman and the Barna Group, an introduction to their new book, You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving the Church ... And Rethinking Faith.  It was a fairly compelling day, but I put the book on the shelf until recently.  This book contains a ton of data on what's being referred to as the "dropout problem".  Where the book UnChristian focused on young adults that have never been a part of the Christian Church, You Lost Me focuses on young adults that are drifting away - in droves.

The research specifically looks at young adults from 18 to 29 years-old and seeks to discern where they are on their faith journey today.  It's a period of life that's long been attached to wandering ... There's a lot of life change in our 20s ... College, moving out, starting a career, marriage, kids ... It's an overwhelming period of life.  If there's a time when people are more likely to wander from the church, it's here.  And it's common - has been for decades.  For the longest time the churches stance on 20-something ministry was "They'll come back when they get married and have kids."  Ever hear that one before?  Problem is, young adults do still begin an epic period of wandering after high school - they're just not wandering back to the church as much as they used to.

I've been working my way through this book for a couple of weeks now ... It's a metric-ton of data.  One of the things Kinnaman does for us is break down the dropouts into three (biblicaly oriented) categories: nomads, prodigals, and exiles.

The 'nomad' moniker resonated with my own college years, a pivotal time in my own faith journey.  From page 63, here's how Kinnaman describes 'nomads':

"...the first, and most common, category of dropout - the spiritual nomad, the wanderer.  For these young adults, faith is nomadic, seasonal, or may appear to be an optional or peripheral part of life.  At some point during their teen or young adult years, nomads disengage from attending church or significantly distance themselves form the Christian community ... Most, however do not discard it entirely."

In high school, I was highly involved in my church youth group and the church in general.  I was there all day on Sunday - Sunday school, corporate worship, youth bell choir, youth choir, and youth time, I even sang with the adult choir on occasion.  I did everything.  It was a fantastic program to be a part of.

Then college happened.

I immediately joined a church in my college town, and joined the choir at the church the second week of school.  It was a strong church with even a small college class.  My choir director at college was very active in the faith family and he strongly encouraged me and others in the choir to be active at the church, and that was awesome.

But then life happened.  Ever see a schedule for a music major in college?  There's a lot of extra stuff that no one gets credit for.  So the drifting started, almost immediately.

I had to work to pay the bills.  Sometimes on Sunday mornings.  The drifting continues.

I dated the choir director's daughter.  We broke up - super tough times.  The wandering gets easier.

I turned 21.  Partying, drinking.  Normal college hijinks.  What time was church again?

I'm being honest here.  Honesty is still the best policy, right?

I didn't attend a worship service in my college town with any regularity for nearly three years in college.  I was a spiritual nomad - I still considered myself a Christian, but church wasn't high on the list of priorities.  But, I did have a anchor to my faith through my own period of wandering - my home church.  When I came home, I couldn't have been more welcome.  People there built relationships with me that are still standing.  And through that whole period of wandering I felt a call to ministry that people in my home church affirmed.

It also helped that it was the church that my parents still went to, but like many young adults, the opinion of my parents on my faith journey wasn't the biggest of factors - sorry, Mom and Dad!

My college years typify what the 'nomad' has often looked like in the young adult faith journey - except now the wandering doesn't lead back to the church nearly as often.  A lot of people in the more 'mature' generations want to know what the magic bullet solution is to the dropout problem.  I haven't gotten to the solution parts of You Lost Me, yet.  But I will tell you what brought me home - relationships.  People invested in me.  People checked on me (and still do).  The church is relationships - not committees, or boards, or preachers, or websites.  And now my wife, my son, my friends, my family keep me in closer relationship to God now than I ever could be on my own.

It's all about relationships - people investing in other people.

So, if you're part of a church struggling to 'attract' young families, ask yourself, "What are we actually doing to build real relationships with young people?"  That's where to start.

The Big Change

A few months back I began the candidacy process in the UMC to pursue ordination as an elder.  Since that time that decision as been reaffirmed through conversation, prayer and a multitude of experiences in discernment.

Through it all, I knew I was in this process for the long haul, knowing that the UMC takes a fairly deliberate course in determining who's right and then equipping those folks for ministry.

Here's one thing I know: I'm called to new church start ministries in the UMC.  I'm called to reach out to the millenial generation, a generation that's largely been mishandled by the church - a generation that I'm a member of.

In discerning that call as a family, I've reached out and made it know that that's what I feel called to do with my life in ministry.  And through that reaching out, a new opportunity in ministry has come.

Beginning April 1st, I will begin serving as Associate Pastor of Young Adults and Communications at First United Methodist Church of Arlington, TX.  I'll be working with the pastoral staff and laity to reach out to the local community to pull in the young families and college students that are on the fringes.  I've also been blessed with the responsibility to preach and lead their contemporary worship service, a responsibility that will be phased in over the first few months in Arlington and that will step up after I attend licensing school this summer.

Oh yeah, and I hope to start seminary again this fall as I begin studies towards an MDiv.  It's all happening at once!

It's an awful big change for my family.  As I broke the news to my chancel choir family on Wednesday night it hit me that I've had Wednesday night choir practice for the last 12 years or so, the last 8 years as a director.  It's sinking in that the music ministry portion of my worship ministry is going on the back-burner for a little while as I continue to feel out God's will for my life.

I've had such a blessed time as a worship leader, for the last two years at FUMC Duncanville on the edge of Dallas.  This faith family and I have been through a whole lot together and we have blessed one another.  It's bittersweet, no doubt - there's still work to be done with my faith family in Duncanville.  I thank God for the many lessons I've learned here, lessons I will be carrying on as my family and I move on in God's ministry.

But I'm excited ... I'll finally have the time to get out in the local community and see what I'm made of in that context.  It's a new season for my family, and we're stepping out in faith together for a new adventure with the Lord.  We'll be needing your prayers!

"You Lost Me, LIVE" Reflections

Yesterday I had the wonderful opportunity to go to a free one-day conference facilitated by the Barna Group, and David Kinnaman, author of unChristian and now You Lost Me: Why Young Christians are Leaving the Church and Rethinking Faith.  It was a day-long conversation that really gets to the heart of where my ministry call is going - how do we reach the un-churched/de-churched millenial generation that I'm a member of?

Honestly, it was a day full of more questions than answers, but that's OK - the conference was indeed free, and I ended up buying the books.  The predicament regarding the church and the younger generations isn't new ... But I'm interested in the words and strategies.  For all of my real life experience, I've never truly fallen away from the church in my lifetime, so I do feel that God is calling me into difficult waters when it comes to relating to those of my generation who have fallen away from the church, or even those who have never had a real chance to experience what Christ can do for you in your life.  Mostly the workshop was about asking questions, and I feel good about that.

There was a point, however, when the conference brought the real in.

A Christ-promoter by the name of Jim Henderson put an ad on Craig's List calling for young adults (19-29) to join him in a chat on religion - why they do or don't go to church and where they stand on various faith issues.  Knowing that just offering an invitation wouldn't work, he offered to pay each attendee $50 to come help him with is research.

Two of the young adults who went to that meeting came forward to share their testimonies on why they no longer attend the Christian church.  Mr. Henderson led them through their stories with tremendous grace and without judgement.

The first to share, Lauren (24) served as an organist at an African American church until a few months ago.  She had faithfully served her church community for several years as their part time accompanist, and for reasons unknown to her she went unpaid for several months.  She pursued conversations with her pastor, who avoided her and she continued to work without pay.  After several months of frustration and faithful service, she took to a little ranting on Twitter.  Her pastor got wind of her behavior, and rather than bring her in and fire her, when the church bus drove by her house to pick her up on Sunday morning she was simply told that she wasn't being picked up that day.  Just like that, she was excommunicated.

I didn't even realize that could happen any more.  Without a formal word, a creative and faithful (though clearly not without flaw) young adult was excommunicated from the faith community she called home.  And why?  She embarrassed her pastor.  When Mr. Henderson asked her where she stood in her faith at the moment, she said she still considered herself Christian, but she was done with the church for the time being.  In her opinion, she was tired of church leaders that were more into their own names than the one name that truly matters.  There were many murmurs of dissent with she she shared those remarks.  I heard an older gentleman mutter rather loudly, "Well, that's just an opinion!"

It's an opinion that really matters - because it's COMMON.

The second interview was with Abby, a former Christian.  She grew up in an extremely conservative household, but twin brother baptist grandfathers, if you can imagine that.  She spent some time in the military oversees and had a strong heart for Christ - her intent was even to jump into Military Chaplaincy.  But she quickly became disillusioned with a faith that didn't seem active enough and Christians that seemed to only talk a lot of talk.  She fell away from the church.  She ended up waitressing at a hookah bar of all things, and ended up being ministered to by an Islamic Lebanese family that could see she was searching for something.  She ended up turning to Islam - and get this - because of the rigorous requirements on those who join the faith.  In this Islamic community it's constant worship, constant prayer, constant charity, constant community, and constant family.  She's a history nut with an affinity for languages so she's been able to study the Qu'ran in it's root language and she's been renewed by her faith in Allah.

Now you can sit here and say, "Well, now she's going to hell for joining Islam.  Bummer."  That's an issue that we don't really have time to explore here ... But what the Christian community needs to accept here is that's our fault in both cases of these brave women. We failed these young adults by not embracing their creativity and desire for a faith in action.

And they're just two examples in a sea of thousands upon thousands of young adults that are on the bubble of leaving the church or have left already.

But, there is hope.  In a couple of days I'll share a few of the strategies shared with us to renew our commitment to young adults and young families in the church. But in the meantime, what do you think of the two testimonies shared here?  What is your church doing to meet the ever changing needs of the young adults in your midst?