At church on Sunday I approached my friend Ed and asked, “would you mind if I shared the story of our relationship in the program I am helping to run at my job?” He smiled, laughed and said, “Sure.” I felt like I did a really poor job explaining what it was I was asking of him.
I’ll give you, followers of the Pivot NW grant project, the slightly longer version.
In the Fall of 2016 a small group of young men in our church decided to get together and just hear each other’s stories. This was mainly instituted by one young man Joey, and therefore “joey’s group” became the reference as news floated around the church. This group wasn’t particularly “churchy.” There was no agenda other than to connect and listen to each other’s stories. One story a night. We would ask questions. We would laugh. We would cry, or look down at the ground, or nod our heads as if to say “I hear you.”
No less than 2 of those men got engaged and our group was definitely part of the “egging on” given the inevitability of some of these relationships evolving into marriage. Both of those weddings were full of our church and certainly full of that group of guys. But it occurred to me, specifically with Ed’s wedding, that had I not invested that time in that group and in him, I might not have gotten an invitation.
While I do dance up a storm at weddings, I am also a xennial who straddles the Gen X and Millennial boundary. And as such I thought “wedding season” was a thing of the past given that most of my contemporaries are married, maybe even a second time (like myself).
Clearly, the church had become an avenue for me to involve myself in the life of someone younger. Someone who might benefit from hearing my story, my struggles, my victories, and my failures. And I benefited from hearing his story. And it feels like a bit of shalom to live out that experience.
As the 20-somethings in your orbit encounter significant life events how might your involvement in their life be measured? Even if you don’t care for ceremonies or baby showers or house-warmings, when was the last time you were invited by a young adult to celebrate a major life change? How does your church celebrate those, both in formal liturgy and informal get-togethers?