Fr. Theophan Whitfield
St. Nicholas Orthodox Church
Outreach to young adults is a missionary effort – an effort that differs only in surface detail from proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ to the gentiles, to the Slavs, or to those on the shores of North America. Reaching young adults today requires missionary zeal, one that seeks to encourage and enliven parishes across the nation to appreciate the complex historical and cultural setting of young adult life. This focus would allow us to find meaningful and life-giving answers to the central question of missions: “What does love look like to those we are called to serve?” Young adults in the Church are waiting to disclose these answers to ears that are ready to hear, and in turn are waiting to be guided by a wiser Church and the Holy Spirit “into all truth” (John 16:13).
Today, the Orthodox Church faces a deep need: we have young adults who desire a deeper communion with Christ in the Orthodox Church, but they encounter obstacles. They are not neglected, but neither are their special gifts and desires nurtured as they should be.
To reach out to young adults, we have to take chances, conditioned by a prayerful and thoughtful appreciation of relevant research. The outcomes will be useful, regardless of how we might sort them into the categories of success and failure. But this is an opportunity to reflect on the true meaning of “Holy Tradition” — on the thrilling truth that each eucharistic community is home to the ongoing and dynamic activity of the Holy Spirit, always witnessing through Scripture and worship, in every place and age, that Jesus Christ is the one who “makes all things new” (Revelation 21:5).