November 10, 2011
My friends from Orange sent me a book that I’ve been wanting to grab ever since it came out: “The Slow Fade” by Reggie Joiner, Chuck Bomar, and Abbie Smith. I was thumbing through it in the resource area at the Orange Tour but just didn’t buy it.
And then they sent it to me. I’m glad I waited, but I don’t think having two copies would be a bad thing (one to keep, one to share).
I was fascinated by how the Orange Philosophy fits into college/young-adult ministry. I mean, isn’t the whole idea of the Orange Philosophy for parents and the church to unite to raise up the next generation? College ministry has constraints. Sure, some of their parents are around their parents still or even still living at home; but, for the most part, college/young-adult ministry is about kids transitioning to adulthood (sans parents). So how does the Orange crew address it?
In two words: SIMPLY yet PROFOUNDLY.
In this quick read (I read it in two sittings), the three authors combine their voices to present a case of a relationship-driven (not program-driven college/young-adult ministry experience). The book progresses through the notion that, in most churches, this age group is pretty ghostly (almost invisible); but it’s not that hard to connect them to older people in the local church and help them “rematerialize” before the church’s very eyes.
I’ve got a bunch of ideas that I want to explore from this book (in no particular order):
* Abbie talks about the “mentors” she had when she was in college. Who were mine? Who were yours?
* Is it really that hard to find common ground with this age group? Here’s a hint: NO!
* An adult mentor can subtly turn the dials of WONDER at who God is, DISCOVERY of who they are in Christ, and PASSION for the world through a “mentor”-like relationship. And it’s not as hard as it sounds.
* There is a great template for how to connect adults in the church at large to people in this critical age group. I personally became convicted that, in order for the college/young-adult ministry at New Harvest (Reaction), to thrive and be sustainable, I’ve got to widen the circle of influence beyond me and Mary Kate.
* Once an older adult makes a connection with a person in this age group, it makes it that much easier to connect them to other people in the church who they glean maturity from.
* People in this age group want to not only be involved– they want to serve in a meaningful way. (Phew…at least I already knew one thing in this book. :-) )
* The thing that works best in these mentor/mentee relationships is that there has to be humility on the part of the mentor to realize that both sides of the relationship are in a process of maturation– and they can grow and learn together.
* Chuck Bomar’s charge to ministry leaders should be a post in and of itself because of the richness of the challenges.
* “Old people” can say a lot of things that are unintentionally (but still have the effect of being) discouraging to college students and young adults. I love that the book provides some basic perspective shifts on some typical conversation points with this age group. Again, another post for another day. Rich (and kind of funny).
All in all, I think I have my marching orders. I’ve got to widen this net. There have to be more people involved in the lives of this “invisible” age group, otherwise we should not be surprised that our churches are aging out. We make a false assumption when we think that “Oh, this is just a phase. They’ll come back when they have kids.” Will they?
I’d rather keep them connected if it’s all the same and not throw up a white flag at the slow fade.