The following is the final part of a series of interviews conducted in preparation for the development of our new module for emerging adults: young men and women, out of college, who are as yet unmarried. In an effort to plan activities and discussion groups, we sought to reach out to a diverse cross-section of people.
In this week’s installment, after discussing their own senses of faith, and this generation’s greatest challenges, they now offer potential new directions for living in the church.
For as much uncertainty as there exists in these times, these interviews show that our Orthodox young adults are resourceful, thoughtful; and above all, they truly wish to find ways to engage with their faith, and to live truthfully.
Part III: New directions
The first interviewee is a 29 year-old female who works at a non-profit in public policy. Our next interviewee is a 28 year-old male engineer. Our final interviewee is a 29 year-old male who works as a realtor.
FLM: What do you feel the church could do to bridge the gap and reach out to young adults?
Interviewee #1: My brother and I have talked about this a lot, and we have said that what needs to be done is to get, for lack of a better term, “the head” of different social groups, get each of those ring-leaders to come around…We used to joke about it… “We need a ringleader from dance group, we need a ringleader from this group; from this parea, from the soccer parea, from that parea.”
If you got one of each of those people from each of those groups and put them in a position of leadership…things could get done. And we noticed that there are certain personalities that do talk about it well, and do work together well, but they’re never the ones that are attached to things like this, but sometimes they need to be hounded a little bit.
It takes a certain kind of personality to do that and to chase all those people down, but I think at the end of the day that would be something that would make a big difference. If you…give them some ownership over their community, and changes they could enact…then I think that would do a lot for this generation.
Interviewee #2: So many people are looking for so many different things; some people want the Bible study, and some people just want to go bowling. And so it’s really hard from the basic ground level to craft and create a group that tries to be everything to everyone. So the groups need to steer themselves on what they want to do on level two. A good place to start on level one is just to say, “On Tuesday, at 7, a few of us will be gathering…to do some evening prayers.” So it’s not the pressure of, “Oh gosh, if I don’t show up to this fledgling group of three people, their whole bowling night is gonna be ruined!” But if you’re just praying, and my presence or absence is not gonna disturb it or take away from it, then I’m way more like to not feel that same pressure.
As long you can take two people and say, “We’re just gonna do this, we’re just gonna sit down and pray”, that might build into something; and then the group can determine, “Step two is, we want to get together once a month for an event…or bowling.”
Interviewee #3: The more things we could do to…have activities that could put things into a more modern perspective; the church’s take on more modern issues, would be good. And I know a lot of those programs exist; the other problem is getting that out to people. It needs to be more almost a grassroots thing. It needs to be that you have ten strong people who pass it on to five people, “Can I get you guys to come to this?” And I think as more and more people see, more and more people will say, “You know, all these people I grew up with…these are important people in my life, and I do want to further strength my ties to the church through those people as well.”
In a lot of ways, it’s kind of bringing back the network of people that you knew…When I got back to Atlanta, there wasn’t anything really active for twenty-somethings that really piqued an interest for me…The other thing is population patterns. Not as many young people are living as close to the church. Figure out where people are living, and hold events in those spots.