Marsha and I have just returned from our second annual “road trip” with our two older grandchildren – Brianna (age 12) and Ashlee (age 13). These two girls are technically our step-grandchildren, but we leave off the “step” part because we love them and claim them as much as our two other grandchildren by birth. We took the girls on a “road trip” last summer so they could get better acquainted with us and with each other, and so this year we did it again. It was fun, and the girls are delightful, but I have to admit that Marsha and I are tired.

This year’s trip was to Tennessee where we visited my sister Jill and her husband Terry at their lake home – so we were able to boat, jet ski, swim, try to ski, and keep cool during hot weather. We also went from there on adventures including a trip to Dollywood amusement park and a trip down a series of zip lines at the Smokey Mountain Zip Line near Gatlinburg.

And so it was that I found myself wearing a helmet, harness, heavy gloves, and other safety equipment, zipping down a cable during 99 degree weather, and wondering, “Why am I doing this?” Of course the answer came quickly, “I am doing this because I love my grandkids and I want to make memories with them.” Needless to say, we all survived, had lots of fun, and have wonderful memories of our adventure together.

I share this story because I believe that our United Methodist Church needs some new adventures, some new memories, and some more focus upon building relationships. We have had plenty of talk about institutional “stuff” at General Conference, and the subsequent blogs, news reports, and commentaries have all focused upon structure, committees, budgets, and the like. All of that is important, I suppose, but I believe that following Jesus is meant to be an adventure, a journey, and even sometimes an experience of zipping along with future generations. We “do church” best the same way we “do family” best – when we focus upon relationships, joy, sharing, and new memories. Somehow we have allowed being a Christian and especially being a church member to look boring, institutional, and downright old. Maybe it is time to make new memories, to reach out in love to those who are younger, and to take some faith adventures together.

Our two grandkids gave Marsha and me a wonderful compliment on our road trip when they said, “You are really cool grandparents.” I can only hope that our United Methodist Church also looks “cool” to their generation.