I have a confession; I haven’t always been a committed churchgoer. As soon as I had the option to skip church, I opted out. Sleeping in after being out on a Saturday night was far more appealing than getting up in the morning for a church service. But in my twenties, that changed, and here I am, not just a regular churchgoer but also a full-time staff member. Lately I have been wondering, “How did I get here?” How did that teenager/twenty-something that found sleep more important than worship become a regular churchgoer?
Honestly, I can’t think of any one moment where it changed for me, but I can describe what started the journey. I was a recent college graduate, and my employer, in an effort to instill the value of community involvement, brought in some local organizations for a volunteer fair. I was already experiencing a sense that something was missing in my life; I had a great job and a social life filled with wonderful friends and all sorts of weekend adventures, but I had this nagging thought that I needed to do something. I went to the fair that day and discovered that the YMCA taught swim lessons at a pool very close to my apartment. I signed up. In volunteering, I found the opportunity to help others (toddlers in this case) and felt like I was making a difference. I enjoyed this experience immensely, but something was still missing. I eventually stopped teaching swim lessons.
Fast-forward four years. One Sunday morning I ventured into a little white clapboard church on Centreville Road. (Why I did that is a story for another time). When the plea came to help teach Sunday School, I ventured over to the table to find out more. I soon found myself in a classroom teaching three and four-year-olds. I was 28 and recently engaged. Needless to say, I knew nothing about preschoolers (except how to teach them to swim), but I did know a few Bible stories. It was through teaching Sunday School that I began to meet other people in the church. It is how I became comfortable enough to attend the United Methodist Women’s Fall Banquet and meet even more people and how I eventually found myself in Disciple Bible Study. It was the decision to serve as a Sunday School teacher all those years ago that started my journey.
When I think about young adults, I suspect that there are some out there that are very similar to how I was in my twenties. Finding a place where I could make a difference—where my contribution mattered—was important. I guess that’s why I feel such a strong emotion when it comes to reaching young adults. Statistics tell us that only 1 in 3 people under the age of 30 in the United States have any religious affiliation. We do a lot of great things at Floris—from teaching children about God and Jesus to running a summer camp at a local elementary school. The opportunities to make a contribution are endless. It is my prayer that when given the opportunity, young adults—or anyone for that matter—who are wondering if there is a place where they can make a difference might consider volunteering at the church. Getting involved in a church was transformative for me, and my bet is that it would be for anyone willing to take that first step.