Wednesday, 3 June 2009

young people in our churches, or not

had a conversation today about how the church is failing its young people  - or some churches any way. i have been disappointed with the way we at my church have not built meaningful relationships with our young people - children, youth, young adults - and then bemoan their absence in our gathered community settings. we (adults) need to build relationships with young people not our own children, relationships in which we honestly reveal something of who we are, our own struggles and joys in life and in faith, and offer a safe space in which young people can feel free to ask the questions they have as they grow in their relationship with God. i mean really ask questions, like is there a God? and really safe, to say something like, i'm not sure i believe in God today, this week ... 
i know it's hard, but does it have to be as hard as we make it? 
fortunately, i do have reason to feel positive amidst my despair, as my 23 year old sister has begun to gather some of the young adults (18–30) connected with our church, in order to build relationships that may create some of those safe spaces for honest conversation about life and perhaps, too, about faith or spirituality, or whatever they choose to name it. 
i have some hope that as our church begins to address a recently identified goal of improving how we offer discipleship for each other, young people will be included, and mentoring will become a part of our life together. it will mean adults making themselves vulnerable, it will mean opening ourselves up to learn from each other, to discover the Sacred together, and to perhaps feel uncomfortable, unsure, but also to know love, respect and encouragement. 
i know it's strong language, but we are failing our young people when we do not model inclusivity by not offering opportunities to be fully involved in the life of the congregation, by missing opportunities to honour significant moments in each others' lives, by forgetting to offer genuine hospitality to all we encounter, when we leave youth / children's / young adults' ministry to others, rather than seeing these ministries as part of the whole ministry of the church, part of every member's responsibility of care, love, and commitment to Jesus Christ. 

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