I think we’ve found the allegedly “missing generation”.
For those of you who don’t know, the 18s-30s age group are known as “the missing generation” of the UK’s churches. Across this country, the student-age are very thin on the ground when you check out demographics on a Sunday or membership lists. After the days of youth groups end, exams dominate, Uni begins, and thousands of young adults go missing from the church, possibly never to return again…
This New Years Eve, a handful of us twenty-somethings decided that enough was enough with the appalling stats about our absent and apathetic generation. We declared it is no longer OK to accept the label “missing generation” but instead, we sent out a rallying call to our peers to stand up and be counted as found. We called the event SHIFT as we prayed for a shift, a change, a transformation, in both our hearts and lives personally, and in our mates, our nation and our generation too. Since we know the God of the impossible, we figured we couldn't limit the vision.
Turns out, hundreds of others share this heart and thirst for change too. I’m talking over 400 of the “missing” generation rocking up to the London event and joining the queue to get in. An event run by the 18s-30s, for the 18s-30s, with the 18s-30s. Seems like we’re not all gone.
The message of the evening was simple: love the church, build the church, be the church. No room for cowboys to think they can change the world outside of God’s plan: to be in the body of Christ, headed up by Jesus himself. No room for “self-harming” as Caleb who gave the message put it. As in, we refuse to badmouth the church. We are the church so any berating of what “the church” does or says or is, is self-harm. We won’t be a perfect church, just like no family is perfect, but we refuse to judge it by any other standard than how we judge ourselves.
Most of all, we will not leave. We will stick with it. We will serve it, remain in it, shape it and lead it. We are the church. Not a largely disaffected age-group within a building or structure. We are the lungs, we are the breath, the heart, the blood through the veins, the feet, the Spirit-fueled energy that keeps it running the race. We are not the “missing generation”, we are part of the life-giving body of Christ and we are in it on this earth until tagged-out eternally.
Love the church, build the church, be the church. With a mantra like that, and hundreds of us stepping up and digging in to see change, I could not be more excited for 2012.
“In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” (Ephesians 2: 21- 22).