By Bishop Ann Svennungsen
Everywhere you turn you can find a survey about why young adults aren’t coming to church. I thought I’d conduct my own. In a comprehensive survey of two, I heard: “It’s hard to go to church all by myself,” and “I spend so much time keeping my kids quiet, I leave church more exhausted than inspired.”
From early on in scripture, people have asked: “Will our children have faith?”
Deuteronomy is clear about teaching God’s word to future generations:
Who has a god so near to them as the Lord our God is whenever we call? … But take care and watch yourselves closely, so as not to forget the things that your eyes have seen, … make them known to your children and your children’s children. (4:8-10)
You shall put these words of mine in your heart and soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand. … Teach them to your children, talking about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. (11:18-19)
The Psalmist writes: “We will recount to generations to come the praiseworthy deeds and the power of God, … that the generations to come might know, and the children yet unborn; that they in their turn might tell it to their children; so they might put their trust in the Lord. (Psalm 78: 4, 6)
ROSTERED LEADERS IN OUR SYNOD have an extraordinary opportunity on Thursday, March 28, to hear from people doing real, qualitative exploration of “the widening gap between young adults and Christian congregations.”
“Augsburg is one of only 12 schools to receive funding and participate in Lilly Endowment’s Young Adult Initiative.”
The Augsburg Riverside Innovation Center is a “big deal” for our church. Sometimes, we’re cavalier about the remarkable wisdom from our own neighborhood (a prophet not welcome in her hometown and all). But, Augsburg is one of only 12 schools to receive funding and participate in Lilly Endowment’s Young Adult Initiative. The schools are located across the country and represent Mainline Protestant, evangelical, historic African American, Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and independent congregations. Yes, for Augsburg to be selected is truly a big deal!
Now, two years into the project, we are invited to learn some of Augsburg’s discoveries. All rostered leaders are invited to join us for the conversation. This is not about filling our pews or assuaging our guilt. This is not about the survival of the church. It is about the story of God’s fierce love revealed in Christ – a love that forms beloved community and gives meaning and purpose to life.