Many churches are seeking ways to reach out to the younger generations. Unfortunately this often manifests as either a "come be just like us!" attitude-suggesting an unwillingness to change in order to be inclusive of young people-or as a slick marketing campaign that tragets young adults in much they same way secular advertising does. Both of these approaches often leave young adults feeling that their particular spiritual gifts and needs are unwanted by the church. "We only want you for your demographics" is the message given.
Carol Howard Merritt, a pastor in her mid-thirties, suggests a different way for churches to be able to approach young adults on their own terms. Outlining the financial, social, and familial situations that affect many young adults today, she decribes how churches can provide a safe, supportive place for young adults to nurture relationships and foster spiritual growth. There are few places
left in society that allow for real intergenerational connections to be made, yet these connections are vital for any church that seeks to reflect the fulness of the body of christ.
Using the metaphor of a tribe to describe the close bonds that form when people of all ages decide to walk together on their spiritual journeys, Merritt casts a vision of the church that embraces the gifts of all members while reaching out to those who might otherwise feel unwelcome or unneeded. Mainline churches have much to offer young adults, as well as much to learn form them. By breaking down artificial age barriers and building up intentional relationships, congregations can provide a space for all people to connect with God, each other, and the world.