For years my husband Chris and I have been looking around in church and noticing that there are not many (if any) people our age. Have you noticed it too? While our churches might have decent sized youth groups, once those kids graduate high school and head off to university they seem to stop coming to church. We find ourselves hoping that they’ll eventually come back to church, but if we’re being honest we will realise that a lot of the time they don’t.
That is what Chris and I came to recognise, after years of attended church and having no Christians our age to share life with. So we ventured out with a few others in search of creating a church service designed to meet the needs of twenty- and thirty-somethings interested in finding out more about Jesus. And you know what… it worked! God brought people to our church, people our age who wanted to be in community with others who loved Jesus. It was so refreshing and fun. We suddenly had a network of Christian friends our age who we could do church with, do bible study with, and do life with.
But then God called us to move to the United States, and when we got here we discovered the same old story… a distinct lack of twenty to thirty year olds attending church. So again I’ve started wondering, how do we reach twenty- and thirty-somethings who are outside of the church?
Recently an old back injury flared up and at the point of desperation I cried out to Jesus knowing that I needed to do something about it. Yoga seemed like the most obvious answer. Now to give you a bit of background information, I’ve always resisted practicing yoga. Years ago I read a book called The Death of a Guru, by a Hindu Brahmin turned Christian who explained that Yoga was designed as a means to open your mind and body up to union with Brahman. It was important for me that I did not seek to be in union with anything but Jesus Christ, so I avoided doing yoga from then on. However, I am extremely inflexible and my back injury is exacerbated when I get too stiff and tight through my muscles, so I asked God whether it would be ok if I did Yoga at a local studio down the road. Sensing God say that it was OK, took myself off to yoga.
After two sessions I cannot otherwise describe it as to say that I sensed God’s Holy Spirit say to me, ‘It is Good for you to be here’. Why, you might ask is it good for me to be practicing something specifically designed to open myself up to Brahman? Well, firstly, I believe the God I worship, Jesus Christ, is greater than any Hindu god therefore I have nothing to fear in attending these classes, but secondly because all those twenty and thirty-somethings who aren’t in church are doing other things, like yoga. Honestly, I’ve never seen so many girls and guys my age all in one room together – this yoga studio is a mission field!
So while I’m attending yoga I am seeking to gain a better understanding the worldview of people outside of the church, to know and appreciate where they are coming from. But this is also a chance for me to step out of my ‘Christian Bubble’ into the world and mix with people who do not know Christ.
Dan Kimball in his book They Like Jesus But Not The Church says that there are two chasms that stand in the way of those in the world accepting Christ. The obvious one is the Cross, but the other one which we often don’t recognise is Christianity itself and the Christian subculture that we have created, which causes so many outside of the church to have a negative reaction to us. It is essential that we build bridges over these chasms and seek to remove the barriers which stop people from even considering Christ. We need to get out of the safety net of our christian subculture and start interacting with the world, befriending those outside of the church and building trust with them. For we live in a world where many twenty and thirty-somethings admit to being on a spiritual quest to find purpose and meaning in life, but they never stop to contemplate Jesus, who is the way, the truth and the life. These people are probably not just going to walk into our churches, so we need to get out into the world and show them who Jesus is and how much he loves them.
So my challenge to you is this – if you look at your life and your social group and find yourself surrounded by Christians then make a commitment to step out of your Christian Bubble and into the world. Ask God to show you where He would like you to spend your time and with whom He’d like you to spend time with. It may not be at a yoga studio, it may be a coffee shop, or in a sports team or a book club. Wherever it is, let’s get out into the world and win some hearts for Christ!