Sunday evening I finally got to go along to CauseWay, the twenty-somethings evening worship at West Mersea Free Church. I’ve been meaning to go for ages, but you know how it is… It was a great evening with worship, testimony, prayer stations, tea & cake and a real sense of God’s presence.
CauseWay has been running for about three years. It started small when the church recognised that they were not reaching this age group (what I call “Church 18-30”) and released their few young adults to start something. So they did. Causeway has seen a significant number of young adults coming to faith and being baptised – personal testimony and baptisms are celebrated regularly.
There seem to a number of common features of these 18-30 expressions of church, of which there are several around here.
A tangible sense of community. If there wasn’t a meeting to go to these people would still be friends and get together.
When there isn’t a meeting, they do get together! Social gatherings at a ‘third place’, usually in a pub, form part of the life of church 18-30.
The community is accessible to unbelievers who can easily be included in social events. Friendships flow across the boundaries of ‘church’ in a way that is inviting and which demonstrates the life of God in the community.
Not-yet-believing friends are included in the functioning of the community. As an example, CauseWay have routinely included not-yet believing friends in the worship band (as backing musicians). This is done with wisdom regarding the outlook of the individual concerned, but the policy speaks for itself – eveyone so involved has become a Christian.
Church 18-30 has blurry edges when it comes to its relationship with the host church. There is a real recognition and value placed on the involvement of older members of the church in a supporting, but rarely up-front role.
These 18-30 groups are not really semi-autonomous “youth (or young adult) congregations” in that they sometimes function like a specific congregation, and at other times appear to be simply active members within the wider life of the church. In at least two local examples they are also involved in leading worship in regular services.
The social nature of these groups means that they frequently attend each others services or events without in any way compromising their commitment or loyalty to their own church.
They have a passionate concern for their friends, their community and the wider world. They get out and do stuff!
If these guys keep growing church like this, things are looking good.