Where do I fit in?
This evening one of my friends posted the link, https://sarahshowell.wordpress.com/2017/02/20/the-loneliness-of-being-a-millennial-in-church/, and it is something that I was talking to a friend about last week.
I didn’t just grow up in the church, I grew up in 2 churches. My mom was raised Irish Catholic and when she married my dad, a lifelong Methodist, in the Catholic Church she promised to raise her children in the Catholic Church. However, from a young age, my brother and I were involved with children ministries in both churches. While in high school I made the decision to leave the Catholic church because I felt the beliefs taught didn’t represent me. Since I was already involved with the youth group at my dad’s church, I started regularly attending service there. I was highly involved with the youth group and attended youth events for the Methodist Conference as a teen and went on to be part of the volunteer staff for one of the events for 6 years, changes in jobs and lack of vacation time caused me to stop.
In college I found my place in Wesley Foundation, the United Methodist Campus Ministry. While there were a handful of times I attended some of the large campus ministries, I felt like a fact in the crowd at them and a butt to keep a seat warm. In Wesley Foundation, I developed amazing friendships, some of which are still strong today 9 years after graduating. With the campus minister in Wesley Foundation I found that relationship that I had with my pastor in high school and the Priest I had as a child. Someone I could talk to about anything and look to for sound advice.
Shortly after graduating I moved halfway across the country. I found a church that worked, but it was hard to find a place to fit in. How I first met people around my age was by going to a young adult event to watch the football for the local college. I knew NO ONE when I walked in there. It was scary to say the least. I met some amazing people that night, however they were all married and I was single so things we enjoyed doing in our spare time were different. Through one of them, I did end up volunteering with the youth group and that is where I met other single adults in the church.
But now I am back in my home state and in a military town. I walk into a Methodist church and I am the only person between 21 and 40 that is single and without kids. I feel lost. I feel like no one gets me. The other single folks are late 40s and up, most of whom have college aged or older children. The folks my age are married with children. So where do I fit in?
I tried to attend some singles things with a friend who goes a local Mega Church. I didn’t fit in there because I’m too liberal and don’t think that every night needs to be spent with people from the church and no time should be spent with people who don’t go to the church. I would have rather been in a church where I was the only person under 40.
Churches are wondering where the young are going. But churches aren’t making it a point to give us a place to fit in. The singles groups are for those that have been married before. The young adult groups are for those college aged and just out of college or those who are married. We are leaving because we don’t have a place. We are leaving because we don’t want to be the person that all the elder’s say “you should meet my grandson next time he is here, he is single you know.” We are leaving because we would rather not be at church than to be in church and feel alone, because church isn’t somewhere you should feel alone. We are leaving because we feel like we aren’t understood.
We are surrounded by so much and we want to feel grounded. We want to feel like we fit in. We want to walk into a church and be fully welcomed and not told “God has the perfect spouse for you and you’ll meet them at the right time.” We wanting meaningful relationships because those of us in our 30s still remember hanging out with friends where the only electronics were the TV and VCR and you truly engaged with people when you were around them. We want to know we are loved and accepted.
We have a different set of social beliefs than many of the church elders. Personally, I have felt like some members of churches think I’m not Christian enough because I believe that adults should be able to marry the adult they love, that abortion is a women’s choice between her, her Dr, and God, that fighting for civil rights still needs to be done, and many other things that the church has historically been against (before you say the church isn’t against civil rights remember the Bible was used to argue for slavery and Jim Crow Laws).
Times are changing and churches won’t have a future if they do not find a way to accept and provide for single adults past college.