My little girl got braces this week.
   Lori and I took Lucy to the orthodontist to address some corrections that needed to be made with her teeth. Through this process I learned that there have been wonderful advances in this procedure through the years. One of them has to with choosing what color you want on your teeth.
   When asked what color she wanted her braces to be, Lucy said “orange and blue.”–colors of the Auburn Tigers. 
   I laughed at her choice. I wasn’t ready for that response, it was a complete surprise but appropriate too. It showed her desire to make the best of a challenging and new situation. She’ll have some pain and discomfort for a while but the ultimate goal will be worth it.  
   Associated Baptist Press released an article this week entitled “Millennials warn churches against catering to their generation.” It is a good read. We must be careful not to stereotype all millennials (born 1980-2000) into one category regarding what they like as far as worship style is concerned.
   George Bullard, church consultant and contributor to the article, states that congregations are contorting themselves into contemporary expressions that attract few young people. The problem is that churches aren’t staying true to their own identities.
   There isn’t a “one size fits all” approach that “works” with this generation. A key factor seems to be creating an atmosphere of authenticity and hospitality for them to make new friends and explore their relationship with God. 
   I’ve been expecting an article like this to come out for a while. Because, like many of you, I desire to see more millennials take part in worship. I have sensed the desperation of trying to find that one idea that will work, but it’s like nailing jello to a wall. Nothing seems to stick. . 
   It’s a challenging time for churches all across our nation. For decades, churches have been facing declining numbers and financial resources. An older and more faithful church-going generation is aging out and dying. Yet, churches also face some of the most amazing opportunities to share the gospel. In some ways, the 21st century church is dealing with the same kinds of issues that the 1st century had. We live in a pluralistic society, have complex social and political landscapes, and deal with people who don’t share our worldview or values. The same was true more than 2000 years ago.
   Students go through a lot of changes in their lives, and like Lucy, learn to adapt and want to make the most of the life experiences that come their way. Let’s love those who come are way and be excited about the opportunities for us to gather for worship and then scatter to be a witness for Christ. Let’s also remember that the church isn’t a one or two hour meeting during the week, but a way of life that reflects our relationship with Christ.
   I think we underestimate the sincerity of millennials who genuinely seek a deeper relationship with God and ways to develop that in their own lives. Not all of them are satisfied with the loudest and latest form of worship style. I believe there is a segment of them who are looking for something more significant and deeper than what happens on an hour on Sunday morning. 
   UHBC has long had relationships with Rountree Elementary School, MSU, and Drury. Some of you are graduates, professors, and former faculty at the schools. Our church is promoting and asking you to provide backpacks of school supplies for the elementatary school. We are also hosting the MSU Pride Band soon and you can help out with that too. Soon the “Adopt-a-Student” program will be in place once again, and Trey has some great ideas to cultivate relationships with students.
   Let us desire to “seek first the Kingdom of God” and allow the Holy Spirit to continue to transform us into the kind of church that brings glory to God and love for others. 
   I appreciate Paul Bass and Ethan Bryan filling in for me these last two Sundays. My family and I appreciated the time away to be together and visit family. We are thankful to have a home to return to in Springfield and to see our church family once again.
    The Apostle Paul told the church not be afraid of the challenges around them. We’ll talk more about that Sunday. I hope to see you then. We’ll gather around the Lord’s Supper table and be reminded of our blessings as God’s people. The choir will have a wonderful anthem to share with us as well. I look forward to seeing you
    And, don’t forget the Talent Show this Wednesday night! It will kick off the beginning of another church year. 
   There’s a lot of good things taking place in our church. I hope you will do your best to take part in them and encourage others to do the same