November 10, 2010

A Church Story

ONCE UPON A TIME THERE WAS AN ADVENTIST CHURCH OF ABOUT 200 members. And while there were more middle-aged and elderly churchgoers than there were youth and young adults, the younger set was involved, and everyone got along quite well. There were a couple twentysomethings on the church board, and one elder was a college student (a stretch for some who grumbled a bit about age and maturity).
“Young and old worked together in community service projects, evangelism, Sabbath school, and worship services. In fact, in an effort to help the pastor (who served at several area churches) and keep the younger members invested, the twentysomethings would conduct ‘Youth Sabbath’ once a month. After a while the young adults carried out the entire worship service by themselves. Occasionally, an older member would wince at the mix of praise music and hymns. In general, however, everyone was pleased—the older members could listen to the younger members’ perspectives and spiritual thoughts; the younger members were able to express themselves without condemnation and prejudice.
“This all fell into jeopardy one Sabbath with an edgy skit that horrified the older members. To be fair, some of the young adults questioned using the material but decided to try it anyway. Members were upset, calling for a ban on ‘Youth Sabbath.’ The young adults asked the church to set up a meeting to discuss the issue.
“That evening the young adults offered a public apology for their lack of judgment, and for the hurt they might have caused. They suggested that more ‘mature’ members help them with programming, especially when they weren’t sure of appropriateness. The congregation reacted in kind—the meeting ended with the apology accepted, the youth gently disciplined and praised, and a season of prayer.”
I wonder why I don’t hear more stories like this.
Kimberly Luste Maran is an assistant editor of the Adventist Review. This article was published November 11, 2010.