December 30th, 2007

planet

age and church going

marc and I tried a new church out... nothing particularly wrong with our current church, we're just a little bored by it. Anyway the church we went to was larger, and he was commenting on how many old people were there. I had to explain that we're a weird age group of people going to church. It's a well-known fact that people don't tend to go to church much, between the ages of 18 and 30. Here's the average path I think a church member goes on:

1) You're born. Your parents make you go to church.

2) You hit high school. Your mind starts thinking about God differently. You want to explore faith. You go to youth group, which is fun, usually includes rock bands.

3) You get older. All your friends are drinking and having sex. YOU start drinking and having sex. You're 19 years old, you've been dating the same person for a year or more, you're not ready to get married but you can't understand what the freaking deal is about sharing a bottle of wine and getting it on. The only people not drinking and having sex are The Christians... they have a little campus club where they hang out having chip and dip parties, planning early weddings (nobody else I knew got married before graduation... I'm going to blame that one on sex, too) talking about how Jesus helps them deal with the pain of being total outsiders. You can either be one of them, or relax and have fun. Most people choose the fun.

4) You graduate. You're single. You have plenty of friends. You've forgotten about church entirely. There's a lot going on.

5) You get married. You have kids. You don't go out late at night, so suddenly you're awake on Sunday mornings. You're afraid your kids are going to do bad things. You take them to church.

The key thing is, that by step 5, the Big Dividing Factors (drinking, sex) are okay now! You're married so the church encourages you to have sex, drinking is legal because you're now 21, so suddenly, going to church is no big deal. You fit in, it makes sense, you can chat with that guy in your office with the "GOD BLESS AMERICA" poster hanging up. You forget why you took time off from church, and start finger-pointing at the crazy youth who'd rather be doing something else. Church naturally fits into your lifestyle when you're married with kids. Nothing about it fits when you're 19.

I think it's healthy to explore spirituality at all ages, and I hate that there's this void of church-goers between the ages of 18-24. Churches are doing things... some have rock bands, saturday services, young adult groups, and it all helps. But there's still this looming fact that it's an institution created by old white guys, for old white guys. Everyone has to make changes to be Christian. Young people need to drink less. Old people need to give more money away. But the church tends to place first emphasis on changing the young people because the leaders can't relate, and "finding balance" is never a popular topic of discussion when it comes to sin, you're just supposed to try not to. I'm not sure what the solution is.