Biblical Living, Church Life, Community, Family, Students

18 – 30s Socials

When asked to write a blog about our heart behind the 18-30s socials, we weren’t quite sure where to start. There are so many different things that have led us to this decision, that it’s impossible to touch on them all – so we thought a good place to start would be through taking you on the personal journey we’ve been on this year.

After time away in California last summer, we concluded that God had given us a shared heart for the 18-30s in church. For students who have just moved to a new city, for the young professionals, singles, newly-weds, for the seemingly outgoing and for the introverted.  The 18-30s are a foundational point of growth in our lives. It is a period marked by transition as we move from youth to adulthood, working out priorities, making decisions on where we live, where we should work, many for the first time. For both of us, having strong and accountable relationships with Christians who were both going through this and a step ahead of us, was pivotal in this journey. It’s key that we have relationships with others who encourage and challenge us as we choose to run after Jesus in a world rife with distractions and pressures.

Yet often these kinds of relationships can feel hard to come by, and impossible to form in fleeting morning conversations or the odd midweek event. We hear the word ‘family’, but if we’re honest, don’t always feel connected in this way. This is how we felt approaching December. We’d been on and off travelling with work so the usual meet ups we once had were next to impossible to arrange, small group became near impossible for us both to regularly attend, and suddenly we found ourselves feeling disconnected and stretched to the point of struggling to engage in the simplest of conversations on Sunday mornings. It was in this time we started to question – what does it really mean to be church?

We met with some friends and chatted about this one night, and the conversation led us to watch the documentary, “We are Church.” It’s a documentary about house churches in San Francisco led by Francis Chan, and the section on “Loving Family” really struck us. As one of the women in the house church put it,

“Are we looking around and seeing people who love one another – where the world looks on and says I’ve never seen love like this?”

God didn’t design Christianity to be something which you walk by yourself, and mission is not a one-man party – it’s a team sport. It’s not a social club for the select people we just so happen to get on with, or share the same backgrounds as us. The church is a group of people, from all walks of life, made one in Christ Jesus. What does it mean to be church family? Loving Christ and loving one another as Christ first loved us.

When we first prayed about what to do for students and twenties, we had an image of an Upper Rooms, of a space for 18-30s to meet with one another, form authentic covenant relationships, love Jesus with all our hearts, and love one another as He first loved us. To be a real and radical community of believers deeply in love with Jesus so much that we can’t help but pursue accountable relationships with each other where we encourage each other on our journey of becoming more Christ-like. To be salt and light in our universities, workplaces, colleges. That is the vision, and that is where the termly Upper Rooms events came from.

But the point is, the heart behind Upper Rooms is more than an event – it’s about providing space for building relationships – and this is why we’re now doing socials. When we first planned, we had ideas of house socials, walks, and times to grow together. We didn’t have the time or space to do them then. But now, by God’s provision, we do.

The Upper Rooms events so far have been great, and we look to continue them at some point. However, we think by focusing so much on meetings this year, the original heart has been slightly lost. There’s nothing wrong with events, and having meetings where our intent is to focus on worship and scripture is important so that we don’t slip into being merely a social group – but, they’re also not the best contexts for forming relationships and really getting to know each other.

We started to act on this by hosting a social following the Catalyst Influence event. It was wonderful. Church family is a beautiful gift. From football to sharing testimonies, talking about scripture and talking about Wimbledon – we started to get to know each other and it really hit us: we need to do more of this! We left full of energy like we hadn’t had in so long and encouraged by the testimonies, we left excited to continue pursuing this. This is church. Loving our brothers and sisters is one of the greatest privileges we have, because through our love for one another, the gospel of Jesus is displayed:

Do you see it? It’s right there—right in the midst of a group of sinners who have committed to loving one another—that the gospel is displayed. The Christian church gives a visual presentation of the gospel when we forgive one another as Christ has forgiven us, when we commit to one another as Christ has committed to us, and when we lay down our lives for one another as Christ laid down his life for us. 

(Mark Dever “The Church: A Family, A Fellowship, and the Body of Jesus Christ”).

How amazing is this! When we meet for coffees, when we share dinners, when we go on walks, when we do meal rotas, share a hug, send an encouraging text, when we forgive one another, when we serve one another outside and inside the context of Sunday mornings – we are demonstrating the gospel. This is our desire for community; not that it becomes an idol we depend on above God, but in how we love one another, we display the gospel and direct each other towards Jesus. Ultimately it is through knowing the unending, incredible love of Jesus, that we are able to love one another. As it says in 1 John 4:7, “Dear friends, let us continue to love one another for love comes from God.” This is why we’re hosting socials, so that there is the space for real, deep, relationships to be formed that will result in genuine love for one another and for the Lord.

Community is essential in order for us to sharpen each other in the faith. It is through loving others that we grow in humility, in patience, and in spurring one another on in sharing our faith. It is through meeting with each other and allowing space to talk, that we can really share what’s going on, love each other and encourage one another. It’s difficult to serve one another well if we don’t really know each other outside the context of a Sunday morning. Small Groups are great for this, but we feel there’s a need to provide opportunities for 18-30s to grow in relationship together. So, that’s what we’re going to do…

Whether you’re a student, you’ve just finished school, you’re working, you’re single, married, with kids etc. you get the picture, these are for you. Whether you come to all, come to some, or join for part – you’re welcome. We’ve tried to design them in such a way that it’s possible for you to come along to what you can.

So, you ask, when are these socials?

Saturday 18th May – Malvern in May 

Walk in the Malvern Hills, Worcestershire in the day. Followed by an evening bring and share dinner at Dan and Esther’s (whether you’ve walked in Malvern or not!)

June – Keeping free for church wide events!

Sunday 14th July – Wimbledon Men’s Final and Afternoon Tea

Light lunch and the Wimbledon men’s final following our Sunday morning service at Dan and Esther’s. Strawberries and cream compulsory.

Saturday 10th August – Walk and Fire-pit night!

 

Dan & Esther Brown

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