Gilmore Girls, 30 Something Gang, and Church

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Rachel and I finished watching the Gilmore Girls reboot on Netflix last night. For those unfamiliar with the series, it tells the story of mother Lorelei and daughter Rory Gilmore and their life in the small town of Stars Hollow. In the reboot, 10 years have passed since the show ended and Rory is now a 32 year old struggling free lance journalist. She moves home to live with her mom again. It is a difficult and humiliating transition for Rory. 

One of the ongoing jokes of the show is a group of young adults, called the 30-Something Gang, who have all moved back home and are unemployed or under-employed. At one point, we even meet their parents who have formed their own support group where they gather every week to review their kids resumes and talk about any job leads. 

I think the show was trying to find humor in the struggles of many young people to get their careers launched since the economic downturn in 2008. But, it didn’t work for me. There seems nothing funny in adults failing to become adults or adults struggling to support themselves. Sometimes, we need to laugh at the difficult times of life to get through them, so, maybe the joke worked for people of that age. But as someone a decade or more older, it just felt callous to laughing at the genuine struggles of others.  

In addition, the joke did not fit my experience of young adults in our church. We have many young adults burdened by school debts or working full-time while going to school. They are far from unmotivated, lazy, directionless, or childish. They are driven, hard working, often frugal by necessity because many jobs just don’t pay like they used to, and also drawn to community and relationships. 

Many churches are struggling to figure out how to keep or reach young adults in their communities. It can be difficult for us as well, especially among college age students. The transition from a youth group to adult ministries is significant. It requires moving from a “being taken care of” mindset to a partnership relationship with the church. I am so pleased with the way Pastor Jeremy has worked with our youth to develop a servanthood attitude already in middle and high school. I love seeing so many of our students serving throughout the year at Zion.

Kara Powell has a new book out called Growing Young that highlights six practices for churches to more effectively include and empower the young adults in their community. Her research on how churches can help youth stay connected to church as they transition to adulthood conveyed in Sticky Faith was very insightful and this book is no different. She says churches need to: develop young leaders by sharing power, empathize with young adults more intentionally, fuel community, take the gospel seriously, prioritize young people and families, and be good neighbors. We are trying to grow in these ways at Zion, too.

All of this is simply to say, I am very impressed by the young adults God has blessed us with at Zion. They lead in youth groups, teach Sunday school classes, play in the band, head up our nursery ministry, start small groups, serve in Children’s Ministries, and lead faithfully on our Consistory. God continues to raise up leaders for his church, may we faithfully empower them, send them out in mission, and never belittle or minimize the struggles of any stage of life. 

   © zion reformed church 2012