After helping clean out the home of an elderly friend that recently passed away, this article by Derek Penwell has got me thinking. Call me an old soul or a reluctant digital immigrant or any other term, but my view of “stuff” is somewhere between the fun-and-fancy-free-don’t-get-tied-down-with-stuff attitude and that acquire-and-acquire-and-acquire-more-stuff-because-I-love-this-stuff attitude. I appreciate great old pieces of furniture, I love my rotary dial phone and I have no use for a cell phone, and I’d rather read a real live book than an ebook. I guess I’m an odd 29-year-old.
But when I read Penwell’s piece, I was struck by the power of his argument. Are we building a church that young people want to inherit? I like the question, but I think it doesn’t hit the mark. Sometimes blessings aren’t things that people necessarily want to receive. Sometimes faithfulness is difficult and the road is narrow and difficult to tread. So while I appreciate the question, I struggle with the fact that it’s built on an individualistic and consumeristic assumption that what one wants is all that matters. Maybe instead of asking “What If the Kids Don’t Want Our Church?” we should ask “What If Our Church Isn’t Best for the Kids?” By turning the question around in this way, we move from focusing on what “the kids” want to what the church ought to be for the kids, for younger generations and those not yet born. And I think that how we answer this second question will shape the faithfulness of the church that is yet to be.