REMAINING by Improvising

Remain Improvise DL

Recently I blogged/wrote an article about young adults living out their faith in ‘exile’ – by ‘exile’ I mean that for some, perhaps many emerging and young adults, the process of searching for faith takes them outside the church and their home communities of faith.  While this may appear like they are losing faith, these young people continue to identify themselves as Christian, but in order to hold on to this identity they have had to seek resources and support for their journey outside the four walls and traditional structures of ‘church’.

Equip MagazineAs that blog bounced around different circles, I was struck by the way it resonated with so many – and not just young adults.  I received numerous messages, emails and comments from people ranging in age from roughly 18 through to 50, all relating a story of ‘needing to leave church’ in order to hold on to faith, and some of them finding their way back again after piecing things back together. Yet almost all of those who did find their way back rarely found themselves able to return to their original churches.

One person commented:

“For me in my 20s leaving the church probably helped keep my faith in tact…”

When I followed up and asked her what helped her to maintain her faith, she responded:

“…  being involved in a beach mission community of young adult Christians, and beginning my B[achelor of] Theology … Oh and we started a [non chuch-affiliated] small Bible study group of then 20 something’s who met monthly to read the bible, pray and eat together. That group still meets and is of great support to us all.


Now you might say that “Beach mission? Small group? Bible study? They are all things that the church routinely does.” And you are absolutely right. But you will notice that this courageous woman engaged in these practices as a reconstructive effort, gathering to herself a supportive community that spanned across church and para-church organisations as well as organic groups of similarly ‘exilic’ friends.

I’m at REMAIN festival for young adults today – and I’m keen to meet with and talk to those gathered here and listen to their stories.  While my goal is to simply listen without an agenda to these wonderful young people, I have to admit that I have some suspicions that I will be keeping on my radar.

My suspicion is that the way young adults go about ‘doing church’ these days has radically changed.  That is to say,

how young adults participate in gathered communities of faith has changed…
how young adults relate to various institutional forms of church has changed…
denominational allegiance has changed…
the sources by which young adult engage with teaching about the faith has changed…
the ways in which young adults participate in missional activity has changed.

In short,

I have a suspicion that ministry to, for, and with young adults must take on forms that have, up until this point, largely been unknown to the church.


And I wonder if the kind of support and ministry needs of young adults has changed so much, that traditional church structures have lagged behind and as a result young adults are improvising.  Off their own back, they are filling in the gaps and doing the things they need to maintain and grow in their faith – and maybe REMAIN festival (which has originated from and largely been orchestrated by a tremendous team of people in their early-to-mid adulthood) is one of those improvisations.

I look forward to finding out.



NEXT Open Night


NEXT Open Night is your opportunity to find out what you need to know : what is NEXT, how does it work, and whether it is a good fit for you.

Check out:








Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: