In the Bible, God--or sometimes God's
messenger--often implores freaked-out men and women not to be afraid. It's a
standard divine greeting, a nicety to allay the pulse-quickening shock of
receiving a message from heaven. Frequently the commandment stands alone: Fear not, period. Sometimes it's
stitched to an object or person: Do not
be afraid of _____.
What do young people look for in church? In research done in 250 congregations among people ages 15–29, respondents repeatedly said they were looking for congregations that were “welcoming, accepting, belonging, authentic, hospitable, and caring.” The researchers began to call this set of concerns the “warmth cluster.” Worship bands and ministry programs are not a priority, nor is busyness. Even “niceness” doesn’t work with young people. What they apparently seek at church is a sense of family, which calls for intergenerational relationships (Washington Post, September 6).