In the Book of Common Prayer, on page 412 under the section titled, “Concerning the Service,” reads the following:
“In the course of their Christian development, those baptized at an early age are expected, when they are ready and have been duly prepared, to make a mature public affirmation of their faith and commitment to the responsibilities of their Baptism and to receive the laying on of hands by the bishop.”
What could be added, because it seems to be the reality for a large number of youth in the church, “…and don’t come back until you are 30-ish and/or married, and maybe expecting the birth of your first child.”
There are a number of reasons why we as The Episcopal Church tend to lose a good chunk of our youth after they are confirmed. So many that I don’t have space enough to list them all here.
Instead I would like to reach out to those youth who have been confirmed over the past several years, and to those young adults who have been confirmed and have gone through their late teens and early 20′s…as well as their parents (and if you know someone who falls into this category by all means PLEASE forward them this Daily Cup):
I look forward to seeing you in church, in youth group, in the Young Adult Group and/or any of the educational small groups that are forming in the Fall.
No wait, it isn’t just “look forward” but “expect to” see you living into the commitment and responsibilities of your Baptism…with not only God’s help but the love and support of your friends and peers, and your parish family at St. Alban’s.
Simply put: you’ve made a mature affirmation of your faith and it is not OK to then stop coming to church. It is not OK to not be surrounded by the community of people who have promised, as your Christian family, to love you and nurture you and to help you grow into the person that God created you to be.
Making a mature affirmation of your faith means that you understand that having faith can be a difficult thing. Trying to be faithful by yourself or by not coming to church makes something that can seem difficult seem darn near impossible. Jesus didn’t send his disciples out into the world one by one, but two by two…in community as companions. We work and worship and grow together. We are constantly a work in progress and the work of formation for Christians is never complete in this life, only when we are resurrected with Christ on the last day.
I understand that we, the church, have to give you a reason to keep coming to church. Those reasons to go to church need to be more important than fall sports, wanting to sleep in, or pacifying your parents (who probably were the primary motivators for your getting out of bed and coming to church in the first place). Those reasons should be ones that you see as important and vital…that make you want to come and see what we’re up to and engage with us in what we are doing at church and in the world.
A tough challenge perhaps. But wait, no it isn’t. We’ve got this.
If you are in high school, come to Sr. High Youth Group on Sunday mornings in the rectory. We are designing a whole new class that will be inviting, challenging, will make you laugh, get you to think, and may even give you a new outlook about your faith. Yes, we are going to do some cool things outside of Sunday mornings. Yes, they will be fun, promise. And, yes, there will be food…come on, we’re Episcopalians, of COURSE there will be food. Come and see what we’ve got in store for you this year.
If you are in the midst or wrapping up the traditional “college years” (18-22-ish), or are in the grad school or “salad years,” (23-ish to 30-ish) come and see all of the great things we have in store with the Young Adult Group. Call me (202) 363-8286 ext. 207, email me firstname.lastname@example.org, stop by my office in Satterlee Hall. Let me buy you a cup of coffee, some lunch, or a beer after work (for those who are of age of course!) and we can talk about what you love about church, hate about church, want to get involved with or even what your life is like right now. These are intense years with a LOT of pressure. Having a place and spending time with some peers where you can be you without having to worry about who might be judging you or gunning for your job/promotion, etc. is a blessing. St. Alban’s is that place, the Young Adult Group is that group.
The bottom line is this: If you have been confirmed, you’ve confirmed your need to come to church to engage your faith, to learn, to listen, to sing or do any of the multitude of ministries that happen at St. Alban’s and which further the work of Christ in the world. God loves you and needs you…and we love you and need you.
In Christ’s Name,