aefenglommung (aefenglommung) wrote,

But we'll lose all the young people

This is the trump card in the progressives' deck these days. If The UMC doesn't change its teaching, it'll lose all the young people, and then where will we be?


I have been leading Scouts since I was a Scout, myself. How long that's been, I leave to your imagination. And I've been teaching and leading youth in the church, putting special emphasis on confirmation class and church camp and Chrysalis and other such things, since I entered the ministry. Every candidate for ministry is asked before his or her ordination, "Will you instruct the children in every place?" Well, I have. And I always will.

That said, the warning (or threat) that if we do X, or don't do Y, we will lose all the young people is bogus. All people -- including young people -- need what the Church has to offer. If they don't want it, we don't change it to market it more successfully. Because while they may not want it now, they may want it later.

A true story from many years ago would be salutary. In the old USSR, the Church was placed under severe restrictions. The State was officially atheist. To be a believer was to be an outcast, to place one's employment in jeopardy, to forfeit any place in the Communist Party, to be avoided by others. The Party confidently predicted that soon, the tottering old Church would wither and die, especially since no young people participated. And yet the Church did not die. It held on. It continued its life and its service. And it never seemed to grow less. Eventually, a puzzled Communist functionary asked an Orthodox priest how the Church continued to survive; after all, only babushkas (grandmothers) attended it. The priest answered, serenely, "God keeps making more babushkas."

When I entered the path to ordained ministry, I made several profound promises before God and the church concerning what I would teach and maintain. I have kept those promises. If keeping them means the church grows older, poorer, and less popular (in worldly terms), then so be it. My job is not to change the truth to make it easier to sell; my job is to be faithful to my calling to tell the truth that sets one free.


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