Stephen Marsh’s post on Vanishing Communities a few weeks ago got me to thinking about the vanishing church culture of my youth.
In the 1970’s, during my teenage years at church, I had a wonderful time. This was a time of YM/YW activities that didn’t have to have a “Priesthood Purpose” . We played basketball, went golfing, chased the girls in the ward (literally and figuratively), went to trips to Los Angeles including a NBC studio tour and saw the filming of the sitcom “Sanford and Son”. Went water skiing, snow skiing, and anything else we could think of. We did road shows, and had church sport leagues, with regional games that included overnight road trips and sleeping in a hotel. We wore bell bottom pants, and tried to grow our hair long (much to consternation of our very conservative bishop!)
I had a wonderful group of guys that I grew up with from Deacons until we all went our separate ways for missions all over the world. We enjoyed blessing the sacrament, because the sacrament area was separate area from the podium, and the Bishopric could not see you when sitting down. The “priesthood” was not dismissed after the conclusion of the sacrament, and three of us would sit up there away from our parents, take our shoes off and relax, listened to football games on a “transistor” radio and ear buds, and overall had a good time. All eight of us in our priest quorum went on a mission. Nobody drank or smoked pot (this was the 70’s!), none of the YW got pregnant, we just had a good time. Two have died, but the 6 remaining are active in the church.
I don’t see our YM having such a good time like this anymore. This community of my youth is gone. Where is the fun at church? Does this explain why the church is hemorrhaging youth at an alarming rate? There are no sports in my stake. They go to Youth conference and fake treks once a year, but nobody looks like they are having fun. “(Young) Men are that they might have joy”
Could the church have prevented this? Is it just a product of our times? Can it be fixed? Can we bring back the fun times? Or are those halcyon days of the 70’s gone forever?