“Dinner and B.S.”
Young adults aren’t always motivated to attend Sunday worship, and Gloria Dei, Huntingdon Valley, and Trinity, Fort Washington have found young adults ask for more when offered the chance to gather for a meal and conversation about life and faith. The two congregations, linked through the call of the Rev. Jim Goodyear as youth minister at Gloria Dei and pastor of Trinity, began inviting young people aged 18-30 to “Dinner and B.S.,” an informal meal and conversation Goodyear hosts.
“It’s designed to let young adults without children to get together and talk about life,” Goodyear says. As dinner morphs into “B.S.”, Goodyear says, “I listen for what’s going on in their lives, and bring a faith perspective to it.” Sometimes “B.S.” becomes bible study, and “sometimes it’s just about the B.S. of life,” he says.
Goodyear called the group together after noticing the hunger of college age people and recent graduates to connect with each other over breaks in the academic year. Gloria Dei is a large, progressive congregation, and Trinity a small, traditional parish. Between them, Goodyear invited about 100 young people, of whom 30 asked to be kept in the loop. Gatherings have hosted from 6 to 15 people, and the group is different every time. Goodyear planned on a monthly event and was surprised that the group asked for more: “They asked, ‘Could we do it two times a month?’” he says. “‘Could it be on Friday nights?’”
When faith shows up in the B.S. conversations, the talk veers away from the institutional church. “They really get the idea that we’re called to follow Jesus, and to make ourselves vulnerable,” Goodyear says. “It’s about coming together to talk openly and honestly, and not being too judgmental.” The group, which began in August, is still too new to have gone beneath the surface of what church means to young adults. But it is church. “One of the young men told his parents that going to worship on Sunday isn’t church to him. This is church for him,” Goodyear says.
“Dinner and B.S.” may eschew churchy language, but it is definitely about the spirituality these young adults live out day to day. They may not have formal ritual, but they have made a living rite of gathering around a table to share their lives as well as a meal.
“One of the things I am very excited about working with young people — from high school to age 30 — is that they are open to something different; they are willing to look at what church could be while not throwing away everything from the past,” Goodyear says. “They can honor and respect the past for what it was, and look to see what works for them today. That is something that historically the church has not done.”