The following reflection was written by Pastor Leslie Scanlon after attending the Vibrant Faith Conference in Richmond.
“In today’s workshop, there was a lot of talk about the “seasons” of adulthood (young adults, middle adults, mature adults, and older adults) and the characteristics about those stages of life (beginning work, having children, caring for parents, retiring, etc) and generations (X, Y, millennial) and how those impact how to engage adults in that season, but I found that although they have unique experiences, there were common experiences and engagement strategies that span the seasons.
My take-away is that we, as the church, need to work on learning to listen deeply so that we can build meaningful relationships so that we can build a community that is safe space for spiritual discovery, asking question, and theological reflection.
Each season has assets to build up the body, and each life season has something they can glean from being in relationship with the other seasons. True faith formation is more likely to take place in the midst of relationship, than from listening to a lecture. I struggled with the “stereotyping” that happened in the midst of talking about these “seasons”.
There are overlaps between groups, but also diversity within groups; not all millennials are the same—liking screens and guitars, and preferring brunch to Sunday worship. This is why relationship building with individuals is so important; it is the only way we can know what people need for faith formation and how they can be of support to others in their formation. There is no magic pill to engaging adults (at any season of life); it is hard work! We heard a variety of examples of unique adult engagement, none of which would work everywhere, but were helpful to consider the theory and “why” behind them so that they might be contextualized in our own contexts