You know the old saying, “You learn something new every day”?
Well, I learned the following, which was entirely new to me.
“Young people today aren’t joining the United Church of Canada because of the inaccessible language of our old doctrine.”
That’s a paraphrase, but it’s the core of the message someone shared last night at our monthly presbytery meeting.
Do people in the church really believe this? Do people seriously believe that young people today are looking to the Basis of Union of the United Church of Canada in order to determine if this is a church they want to join?
It actually takes work to find this document. If you go the the United Church of Canada website, and to into the section About Us, then Beliefs, there is no mention of our Basis of Union and the 20 Articles of Faith which are the founding doctrine of the United Church of Canada adopted in 1925.
To find our “official” doctrine, you need to know to download our Manual (our policy document) in which to find these statements. Who in their right mind is going to download a policy manual looking for statements of belief when you would think you could just look to that section of our website that says “Beliefs”?
If you are one of these people who believe that a document, only known to the people who are hardcore church involved people, is keeping young people away from the church, you are delusional.
You want to know what is keeping young people away from the church? Get ready because apparently I’m going to tell you for the first time right now. Get your pen and paper, get a comfortable in your seat. Don’t worry, I’ll wait.
Ready? Ok, here it is…
They are looking for meaning. They want to know that going to your church is giving them meaning in life. They want to know that taking an hour out of their extremely busy lives is going to be worth it. They want to know that they are going to learn. They want to know their children are going to get a good grounding in faith based values. They want to know they can help make a difference.
It’s that simple.
Yet, for many churches there is no meaning. We gather on Sunday mornings, say some words that we seem to think might be important, but then that’s all we see or hear of it until the following Sunday. There’s no action plan. There’s no continuity. There’s nothing to say we are acting out of what we profess to believe on Sunday over the rest of the week.
Here’s what we offer young people.
- Something to do on Sunday morning besides sitting in a cold rink or a lying in a warm bed
- Meetings discussing budgets and budget driven business related to keeping the church open
- A chance to take part in fund-raisers to help keep said building open
Does this sound like fun to any of you?
It doesn’t to me.
Doctrine? You have got to be kidding me.
Give us meaning.*Photo from http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1162222