While visiting the Western PA Conference for the College of Bishops, we took a trip to a new church start known as “Hot Metal Bridge.” This church, on the south side of Pittsburgh has an intentional ministry with the poor, homeless, and counter-cultural community that the church at large tends to ignore. Most of the members are young and many of them are new Christians who never grew up in a church family as children. This church is a model for the new kind of church that Christ is calling forth from the people called Methodists. Reaching new people for Christ and doing outreach that alleviates suffering and alienation is the meaning of “Re-Thinking” church.
Bishop Bickerton has instituted a program in the Western PA Conference known as “reverse mentoring.” In this program an experienced, older pastor is paired with a young pastor or missioner and the young pastor teaches the older pastor about heart of the younger generation. Concern for social justice issues such as immigration, health care reform, earth care and equal rights for all people are high on the list of their interests. They want to make a difference in the world for good as well as take advantage of technology and global networking to make it happen. So far this has been a very fruitful venture in Western PA.
Why not try that yourself? If you are an older pastor or lay person, sit down with young people and ask them to explain their perspective. If you are younger take the time to share. Ultimately everyone learns from each other as there is never one-way street when two Christians share from the heart and really listen to one another.