As I travel around our diocese visiting parishes and meeting our Anglican family in Huron I am aware of one fact that is inescapable. We are an aging community.
Many Anglicans see the lack of young people in the pews and know that we are missing several generations in our church family. When I talk about our need to reach out afresh I hear concerns that “we are just too old and worn out.”
There is certainly much work to do to share God’s Good News in ways that are meaningful to younger generations and to shape worship that is vibrant, lively and joy-filled. It will be challenging work and will require every Anglican to share in it – including those with grey hair! It must begin with loving and serving young people where they are.
One of the joys of the Christmas season is receiving letters that update me about the lives of friends from around the globe. I recently received a letter from a couple in Ireland who taught with me in India many years ago. They are now in their late-70’s, experiencing the health challenges that come with age. However I was struck by the ending of their letter where they describe joining a group of ‘Street Pastors’ and once a month being on the streets in the late evening looking out for the young and not-so-young revellers who are lost and vulnerable, offering compassion, love and God’s grace. Here is a couple who will not let age stop them from sharing God’s Good News with strangers and those in need and are finding new life for themselves while giving life to others.
We often look at what we do not have, feel defeated, and stop dreaming. The first step to changing our reality is to ask what we do have to share. Do you have a passion for reading? Start a reading club for young people. Do you have time to spare and a love of children? Volunteer in the local school; tutor reading or math; assist special needs children. Do you have financial resources? Support young people to attend Huron Church Camp; offer a scholarship or bursary for music lessons or sports fees.
Ask where your gifts, passions, time, talents can be meet young people in the world. Don’t groan that we have no young people… Don’t wait for them to come to you – go to where they are! Love them with the love and compassion of Christ. Be God’s Good News for them and their families – whether they come to church of not!