I had a very intriguing meeting at church this evening. Lent begins in about a month, and we were discussing what we would be offering this year as a midweek Lenten observance. Some years we offer a worship service, other years an educational opportunity. We decided that it was time to offer some sort of study. But what?
Our Music Director asked the teenager on our committee something like this: “What is it about the church that would engage teenagers today?” The response was something like this: “The philosophy of it. A sense of meaning.” I’ll be honest; that’s not the answer I was expecting. Generation Z is so different from those who came before. But I loved it. Somewhere deep inside me something stirred.
We kept talking about it, and others chimed in: “I think a lot of us are looking for meaning in different ways, no matter our age.” “I think this might be something that would appeal to a lot of people.” And I started to get oddly animated inside.
We decided that I was going to search for a resource to use that would focus on this — on meaning and purpose — and that I would lead a five-week study on this resource. We decided that we would publicize this much like we have publicized our annual “Blue Christmas service. That service is designed for people who find the holidays difficult because of a loss or some other reason. One of the ways we publicize that is by encouraging members of the congregation to think of people they know who could benefit from that service, and then accompany them to it. We could do the same with this Lenten program.
This is all so fascinating to me because it’s happening at the same time as a few other things. In another meeting this week, I made plans to reach out to other churches to discuss the possibilities of doing youth ministry together. In another meeting this week, a few of us made plans to develop and nurture a small group ministry together at church. At another meeting this week, I got some encouraging ideas about what might be happening in pastoral care at my congregation in the near future. And I also got some work done on a “Writing your Faith Story” workshop I’m creating. There is so much going on right now, and all of it is swirling in my head.
But this one — meaning. Finding meaning in the church. Finding meaning in our lives. My mind immediately went to existentialism, the philosophy that has gripped me since my erstwhile therapist Steve introduced me to it about ten years ago. I wondered if I could lead a group on Kierkegaard, or if Tillich had anything we could use. I thought about the book of Ecclesiastes, written by (I’m convinced) the first existentialist, a few millennia before Sartre or Camus. I don’t know yet. I have a week or two until I have to figure it out, and start announcing it. But somehow, I’m going to be leading a group of people, who know that they are searching, seeking for something. Will there be three of us or thirty? I don’t know. But it will be real. This is real stuff. And I’m feeling on fire right now.
Of course, it’s a blue fire. Maybe even some freaky deep-purple-almost-black fire. I have to keep my emo cred.