On September 9, when many of our members return from Labor Day vacations or summer travels, the gospel text from Mark and the sacrament of communion might be a powerful combination to welcome folks back to the gospel-centered community.
Whether she knows it or not, the Syrophoenician woman’s reference to the table is a persuasive image for her audience. The table stands at the center of Jesus’ ministry.
Even though I grew up in a church manse, am the son of a minister and was raised by congregations of wonderful Christian believers, I had not heard the question until the summer after my junior year of high school. I remember being confused and slightly put off by the way in which it was asked. I remember the steady, waiting gaze of those sitting across from me in the circle.
On August 2, 2010, a column in the New York Times struck a chord with a number of my colleagues—by the end of the day it was posted on the Facebook pages of more than 30 of them. These friends had one important characteristic in common with each other and with me. Each had graduated from seminary in recent years and each was serving in some ministry context, often in congregations.
What do young people look for in church? In research done in 250 congregations among people ages 15–29, respondents repeatedly said they were looking for congregations that were “welcoming, accepting, belonging, authentic, hospitable, and caring.” The researchers began to call this set of concerns the “warmth cluster.” Worship bands and ministry programs are not a priority, nor is busyness. Even “niceness” doesn’t work with young people. What they apparently seek at church is a sense of family, which calls for intergenerational relationships (Washington Post, September 6).