When I started my graduate studies in theology last year, I never anticipated a curriculum with vocabulary like air rights, luxury condominiums, or student protest. But Union Theological Seminary faces an ethical and financial conundrum, one that threatens to fracture our community from within.
Jesus offers his unsolicited advice fully aware of the jousting for prominence that occurs in our social spaces. He sees our mad dash to the front row so that we can be seen by the chief executive officer, the potential major donor, or the bishop.
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).