Hey, my name is Maya MacLachlan. I’m the daughter of one of the editors of this publication. I’m a nerdy bisexual 14-year-old, and I have some issues with the mainline church I used to attend.
When I was about six, I was baptized at a church with my younger sister. My parents took a vow to raise myself and my sister as Christians, and my sister and I were given children’s Bibles. I also remember very specifically that the minister gave me a letter, telling me to open it when I was 13. Then we went to have cake.
When I was seven, I took one look at the activity pack they offered for kids who wanted to stay in the pews with their parents, and thought, “What the heck do they want me to do with this?” And so I sat, bored, waiting to get some of the ice cream they offered during coffee time.
As a young kid I didn’t really understand what was going on. I did really enjoy the Lord’s Supper, however. When they passed around grape juice and bread, I more fully understood what was happening and I felt included. Maybe I would have paid a lot more attention if I could understand what was going on. More physical representations (like Communion) would have helped me, and I’m guessing many other young people, enjoy church much more.
Then my parents broke up and we gradually stopped going to church.
It wasn’t until after I stopped going that I realized the main reason I had liked going was because I loved talking to elderly people. It was and still is something I love doing so much. I think older people have such interesting viewpoints and things to say. More opportunity for inter-generational conversation and collaboration would benefit everyone.
Something I loved was that sometimes, the minister would ask my mom if I wanted to read a verse in front of the church. I really liked public speaking, and I was always excited to do it. Involving young people in the church would make us much more excited, and listening to our feedback and opinions would help us feel important and included.
I believe the Church’s biggest problem is alienating teens and kids. The church’s numbers are dropping, and my theory on that is that younger people simply don’t feel like they are a valued and integral part of the congregation. We see a lot of negative things about the church on social media. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth. To counteract this, I think the best course of action is to be open and welcoming to all, to include young people in meaningful ways (and not only on rare occasions!), and to speak about current issues and concerns.