Elyse Buffenbarger
Boston, MA

High-end gym memberships and fitness experiences like SoulCycle and CrossFit are now frequently cited as new forms of community for emerging adults. This article went so far as to call the high-end gym Equinox “the new church,” pointing to Millennials’ devotion to it: “Like a religion, members find meaning and fulfillment by striving to become their best selves through a daily worship… Members mutually commit to sound minds and sound bodies.”

To be sure, there are some things we can learn from models like SoulCycle; we should pay attention especially to how young adults relate to these places and the deep meaning they find from being part of a community. That young adults are willing to pay up to $150 a month to belong to Equinox could certainly lead us to ask what our churches could do better to engage young adults, reportedly a commitment-averse demographic, in stewardship.  

But what’s perhaps more useful to ask ourselves what our Orthodox churches offer to young adults (and people of any demographic) that they can’t find anywhere else.

If we take a step back and examine the role that Christ and His Church play in our everyday lives, what do we find? Does the truth of Christ’s incarnation, death, and resurrection resound through our parishes? Does the reality of His victory over death matter to life in the 21st century? Is that reality apparent to every person who walks through the doors of our churches?

More and more, what we’re hearing from young adults is that, while they know socializing and fellowship are important, they long for more than pizza and pub nights: they long to belong to a loving community and to encounter the truth of Christ in their everyday lives.

Our churches have so much to offer. Let’s give young adults a reason to belong.