How can a young adult serve the Church and avoid being a “little old church lady”?

This question was submitted to Busted Halo’s Summer School Contest.

What is the best way for a young adult to get involved in ministry without becoming one of the “little old church ladies”? I work for the Church and find that I still have trouble!

churchlady-2My first thought is to simply be yourself. You need not become anyone other than who you are. So if you’re not a “little old church lady” than you will not be one. Some practical advice would be to take your life outside of the church seriously — but to do so in a spiritual way. St. Ignatius of Loyola would remind us to try to see God in our everyday actions, not merely those when we are inside a church. That will provide you with the opportunity to have a more integrated spirituality.

Another idea is to find a church with other young adults present and make friends who like to do some of the things that you like to do in church. Simply put, we need the gifts and the talents of young adults in the Church — both your professional talents and your spiritual ones. So, if you’re an accountant, consider joining the church’s finance council and offer your gifts in that area.

Think of things that older adults cannot do that you can do. Churches are always looking for younger people to help with social media and the parish website. They need young energy with new and vibrant ideas. How about planning a spiritual adventure or pilgrimage? (Think: White water rapids with some time for prayer at the end of the day.)

Lastly, embrace those little old church ladies, not as peers but as fellow parishioners, and offer them your gifts too. They hold wisdom and talent of their own that can help you, and you have much to offer them as well. We need generations of faith in our church to help build up the Body of Christ, not merely for the old or the young, but for all of us together.

Mike Hayes

Mike Hayes

Mike co-founded in 2001. Currently, Mike is the director of campus ministry at Canisius College in Buffalo, New York. A frequent speaker on ministering to young adults, Mike is the author of "Googling God: The Religious Landscape of People in Their 20s and 30s" and "Loving Work: A Spiritual Guide to Finding the Work We Love and Bringing Love to the Work We Do."