Methodist church leaders that young people today want to make a difference and
he called upon the leaders to offer them the opportunity to experience service
through self-sacrifice as an expression of faith.
Young people are
looking for an
serve, to make
a difference in
–Dr. Guy Nave, Jr.
“Young people are looking for an opportunity to serve, to make a difference in the world,” according to Dr. Guy Nave, Jr., assistant professor of religion at Luther College, Deorah, Iowa. He was speaking to a group of United Methodist leaders last night who are looking at the future of the church.
He told us his experience with college students on the Luther College campus leads him to conclude that young people want to be a part of a worldwide connection that is contributing something that makes a difference.
“It’s not about what we need, it’s about contributing something,” he told the group.
This is consistent with the results of research United Methodist Communications has done among non-church adults in the United States. There is, I believe, a growing desire to create change, especially change that makes life better for those who are poor, vulnerable and neglected in the global society.
This is a message we are hearing consistently but it’s one that has no quantifiable data behind it yet. We don’t know how many people feel this way. One economist who attended the meeting said he believes it may be at least 10% of the population, but that’s a guess, too.
But my thought goes to this. If 10% of the young adults in the United States are yearning to make a contribution and to create change, and if they are doing this through humanitarian service, as Dr. Nave says they are on his campus, that means a substantial number of people are already engaged in making the world a better place, and they’re doing it quietly, without fanfare.
There’s a lot to be gained from understanding this, if it’s true, and if it represents a harbinger of things to come. They’re not running from the world in fear, they’re seeing problems and trying to fix them. They’re not standing on the curb shouting to impose their views on others, they’re engaging with others to bring about change that makes life better. They’re not withdrawing into mindless consumption of material goods, they’re actually acting in counter-cultural, self-sacrifice to help other people.
I so want to believe this is true, and I so want to hope not only that it’s happening, but that it will increase.