Young people see the future of the church

2014. április 29., kedd

It is already the 3rd time that 16-23 years olds from all over the country filled the chamber of the Synod hall in order to debate the possible future of the youth mission within the confines of the Synod Youth Forum ( April 4-5 ).

Development has its purpose

“This hope is the certain and strong anchor for our soul”. This was the sentence that welcomed students on all the prepared materials, and this was the anchor that was laid down at the beginning of the conference. During storms, fast changing thoughts and insecurities, this is the hope that God’s promises are also true for the Reformed Church. Youth organisations, church district delegations and reformed schools all came together in order to be a part of the future planning process that determines the church’s life and working conditions. We know that we are on the way of growth when we are constantly full of questions. It is a rough road, but it can help when we think about what others did on the way. Development is not something that functions for itself, but our way is finally clear: It leads us to the community of God. He made a vow and only this vow is stable in our lives, Szabolcs Szontágh, head of the Synod Youth Office, said in his opening speech.

Clever commando

During this gathering, the main topic was on how to keep young people in the church. For this purpose they have created a picture of the reformed youth, the professionals dealing with them, different youth organisations, institutions that accept and welcome them and also of the communication within the church. Their work was connected to the topics given by the Church Revision Committee (CRC), although they were discussed during the one-and-a-half-day-long meeting not on request of CRC. After the Friday night opening ceremony, a team building session warmed up the participants for the next day’s hard work.

On Saturday, the youth were divided into six groups to have a look at the current work and future vision of the RCH’s congregational and institutional youth work. In the afternoon, Szabolcs Szontágh and Eszter Dani, director of the RCH mission office, reflected on the group’s realizations.  The participants were very active, many of them said that it was an honor to be able to take part in this forum, Szabolcs Szontágh said. The head of the youth office told us: First they hoped for some feedback and impressions about the youth mission strategy created by the Revision and Mission Committees, and secondly they determined to continue the dialogue between the Synod and the Synod Youth Forum. The Youth Forum is just starting to rise. We still have to learn how to be in dialogue with the leaders of the church.  We can say these young people have grown up to the possibility of this task and have worked with discipline throughout the day. We see them as young but very determined. They are able to be around their peers like clever commandos, added the youth director.

 

The future of the church through the eyes of the youth

People who worry about the future of the church have talked about the fact that there are no young people participating in church life. They only get involved when getting married, baptized or in case of a funeral. Members of the Youth Forum do not agree. They believe the question should be about how to keep those young people that are in congregations and reformed schools. They think it is important for the able ones to do mission work and for professionals to get involved with them in order to notice the possible cooperative workforce in them. They would like those dealing with young people to believe: It is possible for more people to find Christ. They have put a big emphasis on the importance of spiritual health for pastors and religious education teachers, and it has been set as a goal for the participants to look at each other as fellow team players rather than rivals. Young people do wish for communication within the church to be reformed: They would like to see more phone applications and videos connected to church life, various kinds of life topics and commitments to be present in church communication, not just passing by the uneasy topics.

It is definitely promising that young people do see the future of the church in 50 years, but they also add: For this future to mean “life,” it is vital to renew the church from the sacral places to communication and pastors’ traning. Their direction is clear: It is based on the gospel, it is accepting and colourful. They wish for congregations and schools to be specialized for different purposes in which families, communities and music trends can easily find a home. They ask for space, because they agree with József Csomós Junior, who said during the Starpoint Reformed Youth Festival in Mezőtúr: They (the youth) are not the church of the future, but the church of the present.

 

Excerpt from the accepted declaration of the forum

We, the participants of the Synod Youth Forum, are thankful for this community of young Christ believers that formed in 2012. We are equally thankful for the opportunity to discuss religious topics connected to youth. We see our own responsibility in the mission’s better functioning. We are prepared, and we ask for tasks with which we can help the work of the overwhelmed church colleagues.

 

Bagdán Zsuzsanna

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