Build your perfect church?
This past Sunday night about seventy-five college students showed up at Bethel for free pizza and some interaction on issues related to the church and the community. Bethel hosted this evening for students because students matter at Bethel and we want to listen to them and learn from them. One of the questions we asked was, 'How would you build your perfect church?' Their answers are listed at the end of this article. Let me make two observations regarding their responses.
The younger generation desires community. Note in the list of their answers, all the responses related to authentic community. I have highlighted those answers in orange. I think they're saying that to truly experience church as they desire it to be (and as it was meant to be) that nurturing deep, trusted friendships are a great priority. One comment I heard that night was that because Bethel is a big church with so many students, that it is easy to slip in and out without any accountability. Church for many has been reduced to 'something I attend' as opposed to 'a community I am part of'. I have heard it said that many students attend Bethel because of the location, music, and the teaching. However, in listening to them on Sunday night I think many are attending because they are looking for relationship and community. If this is the case, how should we adjust our ministries?
The younger generation values YOU! This generation is telling us that they want in on our world and they want us to step into their world. Note in the list they are asking for mentorship and for community to be inter-generational. Several of the Bethel leaders I talked to that night were surprised by how strongly the students stated their desire to connect with different generations. They seemed to be saying that they don't always want to be sent off to a generation-specific ministry. The picture they painted that night was of the young and the old sitting together, learning together and serving together.
If you are reading this and not a student at Bethel I trust that you will take this as a challenge to embrace the student culture at Bethel and pray for Bethel as we seek to build community amongst all generations.
. Know and be known
. Live life together
. Open discussions
. Serving communities outside church walls
. Face issues head on - For example- same sex marriage, gender roles in church, minorities, abortion, sex outside of marriage
. Connected to world
. Growing inward/outward
. Supportive of its members
. Dynamic activities for children
. Accountable leadership