Should more youth be represented at Synod? And if so, how would they be represented? By participating? By watching? By participating in various service roles at Synod? Do they want to be at Synod? Lots of folks say that youth are not the church of tomorrow but instead are the church of today. Do we mean that?
I really don’t know the answer to this question but it does intrigue me.
It's not that the CRC has ignored this thought. George Vander Weit was kind enough to offer the following information regarding the current process of including youth at Synod:
Youth Observers (ages 18-26) first attended synod in 2009. They were there to observe and were assigned to the advisory committees considering the Agenda. They could not vote and, as far as I know, they did not have the privilege of the floor.
At Synod 2010 the name was changed to Young Adult Advisor to reflect the age range of these young people. Synod also adopted a motion that 7 Young Adult Advisors be appointed at each synod beginning in 2011. The 2011 agenda indicates that at this point, only four have been appointed.
Advisers are assigned to an advisory committee and though they may not vote they have the privilege of the floor in committee and in synod itself. At Synod 2010 the young adult advisers proposed holding a youth summit every other year during synod in order to expand the engagement of young adults with the life of the church. This was only a proposal, not a motion, because advisers are not permitted to make motions. The proposal was considered by our Board of Trustees, and it is recommending to Synod 2011 that such a gathering be held every three years, beginning in 2012. One to two young adult representatives from each classis will be invited. You can find more info about this beginning on page 50 of the CRC Synod agenda.
At Synod 2010 a Native American delegate was a member of the advisory committee that considered matters pertaining to the young adult advisers He indicated that some cultures are resistant to "taking advice" from young people. Thus the committee recommended "that synod instruct the Board of Trustees to dialogue with a number of ethnic minorities to reconsider the use of the term adviser..." The Board of Trustees discussed this at its May 5-6 meeting and is recommending to Synod 2011 "that synod use the term young adult delegate in place of young adult adviser in referring to the young adults appointed as advisers to synod, on the grounds that in some cultures it is inappropriate for young adults to be perceived as advising their elders or leaders." Though the term "delegate" might be used, they will still be governed by the rules for "advisers."
I think it's great to offer youth a glimpse of governance and the work that is done at Synod. There are plenty of examples of individuals working together, respectfully disagreeing, praying and worshiping as a body of Christ, and strategically leading the church. Think about your own youth group. Wouldn’t it be great if a number of your youth were present when some of the significant actions of Synod occurred? They could tell others that they were at Synod when those historic moments took place. They would carry those memories with them for the rest of their lives.
I suspect that youth bring a sense of energy to Synod. Their presence is a constant reminder to delegates of the Church of today, which must include all members, including our younger members.
The current number of youth involved is pretty small. Should there be more youth involved. Can the denomination afford to pay for more youth to attend? Can the CRC afford not to involve our younger members?
Any thoughts out there on this? How involved, if at all, should youth be in Synod?