What Young People Want from the Church – Reto Naegelin
It is in your midst
Of course, there are young people who like to go to sacred spaces, who like Christian karoke and pop music and who love to pray in groups. However, there are many, many, many more who cannot recognize Jesus in that.
Jesus did not go to the people to attract them to the temple. He lived among them and with them. He met them at the well, in the crowds, eating and drinking together and at weddings. He saw them where they live. He does the same today. In this world, he lives; yet, he is not of this world. Bringing the authenticity, love, mercy, hope, confidence and faith in Jesus to an everyday situation makes it completely new.
A normal occurrence – the sudden gathering of two, maybe three together – opens a door to this other realm with openness to individuals‘ personal experiences of faith. The authenticity of these experiences make God's love tangible.
Suddenly one can recognize what faith brings in a situation. In everyday life, a man experiences God‘s healing and can be seen for what he is, blind before and now able to see.
The church in the postmodern world needs no buildings or institutions. We are the church. In our love, young people recognize Jesus.
Organizations and networks that connect people, that – living in their subculture – support, encourage and serve people is a very good idea. But the organized church must think back to its initial mission. The church should have the humility to understand itself as a tool – as a means to an end, not an end in itself. To encourage Christ‘s followers to be themselves and to live in their world and their culture with the love of God should be their vision.
How this can be done? It begins with being a rapper for the rapper and a hipster for the hipster and transfuse their normal situations of life with God.
When the church makes its way to liking (which is much more than just accepting) the cultures of present and future generations, I hope future generations will like – or maybe love – the church again.
Reto Naegelin (www.retonaegelin.ch), 40, is a deacon in the Reformed Church and head of the department of children and youth for The United Methodist Church in Switzerland. He is the author of Kirchen die Menschen Mögen (Churches the People Like) and is known as the "BluesDeacon" and "BluesConsulter."