• June 2nd, 2020

Dear church: An open letter from young people

REV. Jan A Scholtz

I need you! My life is changing a mile a minute, and I need a spiritual home. The church needs to actively reach out to youth and young adults. This could be as simple as putting your church’s name in the list of churches at the tertiary institutions. 

I am sure students and young folks new to the area would love to be part of a loving sharing Christian community. 
One church reaches out to young people through their regular social justice programs by advertising the volunteer program to young people in the area. Whether it is a social justice program, a book group or even a late night prayer service, I just want to make friends with other young people.  

Youth and young adults are doing all sorts of different things, from starting tertiary education to taking their first job. Regardless of where we are or what we are doing, we are new to our environments and need spiritual partners for the journey. 

Church, if there is anything you can do to help me build relationships with other Christians, I would be so grateful. My friend Dicky says: “I need a young adult group in my church! Even if it starts out small, if it is not there to offer young adults when they come to visit a church, then they feel as if there is nothing there specifically for them.” And Ella agrees: “Sometimes, it is just nice to know that the program is there and to have someone to connect with over coffee or something… It’s nice to have that support and talk about faith or just life in general.” 

Once you have actively reached out, if you ever see a young person you do not recognize in church do not hesitate to say hello! Many of us go to church shopping to find the right church community for us, and most of the time the first step is just making us feel welcome! So introduce yourself and ask us about our interests and passions. 
Who knows? You might make a new friend! Because for some young people, a church community is one of the few places

to cultivate intergenerational relationships. Nurture these relationships!
One of my friends Ndempa told me: “People need to realize that often time youth and young adults, not feeling part of the already established group, need to be invited into ministry and community, not expected to integrate themselves by their own accord.”

Ask me what my interests are and show me all the different options available in the church. Ask me personally! Because youth and young people can be the “active assets of bringing new ideas and a view to situations”. 
Youth and young adults have many insights into the church – use us! Listen and take action. You have been in the church long and know some of the ropes we have not even seen yet.  So help us put our ideas into action! There are many issues we take seriously as young adults. For instance, the church is in a unique place to talk about sexual abuse, harassment of both women and children in many of our societies and more people being killed and unacceptable increase of crime in many of our communities. 

Our bodies are changing and the secular world is bombarding us with information about sex, dating and there is a complete breakdown of discipline as more and more of our young people turn to the drug culture of joint gangsters.  
We could use a little guidance. Please don’t tell us what to do or what not to do as if the situation is black and white. But you can give us a place to honestly ask questions and think about how our faith may inform our decisions at this time in our lives. 

And it will be a wonderful way to bond with other youth in the church.  Well, here you go church! We love you. We need you. We care. And we know deep down in our hearts that you need us, too. 
So here is our challenge to you: reach out to us; encourage us; invite us to the table; and treat us as whole, vital members of the church and society. 

Young people

* Reverend Jan. A. Scholtz is a holder of a Diploma in Theology, B-Theo (SA), a Diploma in Youth Work and Development from the University of Zambia (UNZA), Diploma in Education III (KOK) BA (HED) from Unisa. He writes in a personal capacity.

Staff Reporter
2019-05-22 09:10:44 | 1 years ago

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