As part of the Central Texas Conference's Young Adult Ministries Task Force, I was charged to write the chapter for our workbook on "reclaiming theology." It is our contention that young adults do not want a church that pretends not to have any theological stance. Following is the opening of this chapter:
“You know what frustrated me the most when I started visiting churches?” Susan asked. Susan was a lifelong unchurched person in the Cleveland area. A crisis in her life brought her to a search for God. “What really frustrated me was that I had a deep desire to understand the Bible, to hear in-depth preaching and teaching, but most of the preaching was so watered-down that it was insulting to my intelligence.” In fact, 91% of formerly unchurched people who have found their way into churches and become active say that the doctrine of the church was important to them.(Thom Rainer, Suprising Insights from the Unchurched and Proven Ways to Reach Them, Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan, p. 45.)
People who don’t go to church want the church to care about theology and doctrine. Young adults are no different than any others in this regard. In fact, some say that the popularity of the “X-files” television series was the spiritual nature of the show. “The truth is out there,” the show proclaimed with every opening. Even those who watch television want to find the truth.
As United Methodists, we not only have access to truth and the Truth, but we have a heritage of living at the intersection of that Truth and the world around us. If we want to reach young adults who are currently not connected with any church, one of the things we must do is reclaim our theological heritage.
We contend that The United Methodist Church is well situated to do this! Our theological heritage is a rich, wonderful one full of people being touched by God and reaching others for God.
This chapter is to help your church claim or reclaim its theological heritage and not to be ashamed of it. For years the joke between folks of different denominations was “If you are a Methodist you can believe anything you want.” Young adults are not looking for a church that says all beliefs are equally valid any more than they are looking for a church all of whose depth could fit on a top ten list. Young adults want to find a church with faith and with a substance to their faith.