I don’t like airline travel. It isn’t because I’m afraid of flying, it’s because I’m annoyed by waiting. To me nothing is more frustrating than packing a bag, arriving at the airport at the recommended time, checking in and going through security, only to arrive at my gate to discover that the plane isn’t there. There’s nothing I can do but wait.
That description of airline travel is similar to the experience of many emerging adults and their attempt to stay connected to the church. Many of them have participated in everything the church offers: Sunday school, mission trips, youth group and profession of faith. They have “completed” everything the church has asked of them and many of them are looking forward to the next step in their faith journey. These emerging adults are eager to lead, to serve and to contribute to their church community in a meaningful way.
The problem is when they’re ready, the church often tells them to wait. They might be told to wait until they’re older, married, have kids or are “more settled” in their careers before assuming a position of influence or leadership in the church. These messages can be either directly or indirectly communicated to them but they are certainly received. Some of us “older” members of the congregation might feel that this is the way church is supposed to work, after all when we were that age we may have experienced the same thing. That being said, if we are also part of the church that looks around and asks where all the emerging adults have gone we should consider this question: maybe they got tired of waiting.