This past weekend, I had the chance to hang out with a 22-year-old for three days. George has been raised in a Christian home. He is a believer. He wants to follow the Lord. He is creative and introspective. His mind races in multiple directions at once, and yet he somehow listens and thinks deeply at the same time. He is not a ministry student; in fact, he's not yet certain where he'll land when he finishes college.
God has blessed me to pour into George's life—but I'm the one who is learning. On the spur of the moment, I asked George what ten things he would like in a church if he could design it. Within minutes, he gave me his response—so quickly, in fact, that I suspect he's thought about these topics before. Compare George's responses to the young adults you know.
1. Sound doctrine that is not watered down – George knows he needs the truth, and he wants the truth. He's young, but he has so many other options for investing his time that he's not interested in a church that sugarcoats the gospel.
2. Genuine opportunities to get involved – Doing insignificant assignments does not grab George's attention. While he may not yet fully understand the importance of proving his faithfulness while doing the "little things" first, I get his point. Young adults want to make a real difference.
3. A community for "hanging out" – George recognizes his need to have a community of believers to push him, challenge him – and simply spend time with him. He realizes the importance of Bible study groups, but he sees a need for friends beyond that task. Sometimes believers need friends who gather off the church campus.
4. A strong commitment to evangelism, particularly locally – He has served on the international mission field – and he's committed to that responsibility – but George doesn't want his church to miss the needs in their immediate area. He wants to be sharing the gospel locally, connecting with and influencing the community for God.
5. Services that are "unrehearsed, naturally flowing, and Spirit-led" – George is a musician, and he knows that preparation and order matter. He simply wants what so many other young adults want: authenticity that validates the message and structure that follows the Lord's leading.
6. Hospitality that welcomes complete strangers – The world George has grown up in is much different than my world. The nations live among us. Increasing percentages of non-believers live around us. George would welcome a church that warmly welcomes others – a church that does not cocoon itself around each other.
7. Bold preaching – This point relates to #1 above. George, like many other young adults I've met, wants preaching that "gets in his face" when necessary. He understands his own need to be called to repentance, and he is willing to risk being offended to hear the truth.
8. A strong worship leader – George's family is musically inclined, so his background may influence his thoughts here. He wants an effective worship leader who leads the congregation to focus on God – but who also understands that music is not the only component of worship. The worship leader should be strong, yet team-focused.
9. Variety in worship – Frankly, George admits he is bored easily. Variety (in set up, speakers, worship bands, etc.) would be important to him, if for no other reason than the fact that changes catch his attention. On the other hand, his perspective would also offer opportunities for more believers to be genuinely involved (#2).
10. Humility and flexibility in facility – Where the church meets would matter little to George; what matters is that the church truly be the church. His ideal church could meet under a tree as long as they truly know God.
George's responses remind me that I need to have more conversations like this one.