What I’m Reading Today: 1 Thessalonians 1
A few years ago at the Annual Meeting for the Rocky Mountain Conference, I heard a statistic that has stayed with me ever since. The speaker – the head of the United Church of Christ’s Still Speaking identity campaign – said that 80% of 18 year olds have never been to church. Eighty percent!
So what does that statistic mean for those of us within the church?
It means that we live in profoundly different times than generations before. We use to be able to assume that young people who walked through our doors for the first time had some background in our faith tradition. We could assume, for instance, that they had heard the names of the Gospels before. We could also assume that if we used names like Abraham, Jacob, and Ruth that they would have an idea of who we were talking about. We can no longer make those assumptions.
So if young people no longer have an exposure to the faith through their participation in a local church, then how do they first encounter the faith?
In reflecting on how many people of his day were first exposed to the faith, Paul wrote to his early audience in Thessalonica: “The news of your faith in God is out. We don’t even have to say anything anymore – you’re the message!”
The last three words of that phrase present the key to evangelism in Paul’s day – and ours! You’re the message… You’re the message… You’re the message… That simple three word phrase means that our call is to embody the faith in our daily lives in such a way that those who have never encountered the God revealed through Jesus have an opportunity to do so through us!
If our life is in fact the message for more and more people these days, my question for you is this: what message is your life conveying?
Til next time…