Response 1: Josh Niles
It's pretty cool that you have young adults coming to your services regularly. There is no doubt that as your membership cherishes this natural desire for spiritual growth and nourishment within the community, it is bringing the community and the church together in a way that is really blessing everyone. It reminds me of how Jesus said, "if I be lifted up...will draw all men unto me" (John 12:32). When we are lifting up Christ in our thought, folks really are drawn to that, and when a church is lifting up Christ-healing in their service, that is really what we are drawn to in church isn't it?
Checking our motive is always a good thing too, and we should let those motives be uplifted or baptized if need be. Be alert not to slip into thinking the church needs these young adults to ensure its future, to give a youthful appearance, or to maintain a future of financial stability. In other words, don't fall into the trap of thinking that the future of your church or Christian Science depends upon the youth. The future of your church and Christian Science has—and will continue—to rest on healing, and every one of us has our part in that mission right now. We can address the idea that young adults today are interested in spiritualization of thought but are skeptical of organization as we remember that each one of us hears the Father's call and is drawn to good. And we can get at the suggestion that serving church is just another obligation in already full schedules by being so on fire, ourselves, with what Mrs. Eddy calls this "greatest and holiest of all causes" (Miscellanous Writings 1833-1896, p. 177).
This might require us to look again at the focus of our church service and recommit to a focus on healing. All of us are drawn to healing and as that commitment is felt, any unnatural resistance to being a part of its movement melts away. We can keep cherishing our healing mission and be so grateful for everyone that is supporting it and being drawn to it. That focus and commitment to healing ensures that we will have everything we need to move forward each step of the way.
Response 2: Sabrina Stillwell
There's a great saying "think globally, act locally." Joining a branch church is doing just that—joining locally in a radical world-wide movement that is blessing the world—beginning in our own life and local church, embracing our community and the whole planet.
Of course, understanding more of God, man and Church through prayer, is the best place to start. Prayer can be a humble listening for God's view; an affirmation of God's reality; and denial of any false belief or limited thinking.
Here are some ideas you can humbly listen for as you pray:
- fresh views of God and church and individual man
- what draws any of us to join church?
- a clearer understanding of God's purpose for church
And then by affirming God's truth we can:
- recognize God's law of "adhesion, cohesion, and attraction" (Science and Health 124:20 and 293:13) is in operation, and God is bringing all of us together for His good
- recognize the value of each other and church membership
In our prayer we can deny false beliefs and limitation:
- about Church
- any perceived resistance of younger people joining church
- stereotypes, fears, limitations, based on age or perceived maturity
Some questions to ask ourselves:
- Do we appreciate what younger people may bring to our collective experience of church?
- How complicated are our requirements to joining church? and if need be, can we make the process easier? simpler?
- Are we willing to take the time to get to know and mentor a younger member, without expecting them to do things just "how we've always done it?"
As we strive to get a clearer and expanded view of Church, it will bless us, and those attending our local branch. I know others will bring forward thoughtful ideas as we pray and talk about this. All of us have much to contribute.
This is one of the best venues in human experience in which to work out Jesus' two great commands—love God and love your neighbor as yourself. One aspect of church membership is to witness the child of God in our fellow beings. We can appreciate the distinct qualities each of us bring to this venue, this symphony we call church. This is the most important and radical movement on the planet!