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Starting Your Journey

Starting Your Journey

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.

About Cynthia Lopynski

Cynthia Lopynski served on the Floris UMC staff for 17 years and now works for the Alexandria/Arlington District Offices for the United Methodist Church in Northern Virginia. She has a passion for reaching new people for Christ and for vibrant, relevant, local churches. She is married to Jerry, and they have two daughters.

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