I think it's safe to say that most of us have been part of a conversation about "the youth" in our church. Lately this conversation has had less to do with "how do we quiet them down" and more to do with "where are they? why are we losing them?".
How Young Is Too Young For Council?
These conversations tend to bemoan the fact that there are "no" youth in the church anymore - and either blame it on the church (we just aren't relevant, we need more upbeat music) or the youth (I don't know what's going on with this generation today).
A few months ago I had a conversation with a friend who is quite involved with youth ministry, and as our discussion weaved it's way through different topics, I began to think about deacons and youth, youth and deacons - how do these two intersect? It didn't take me too long to realize that there are many places of overlap - places where, as deacons, we will naturally lead our youth into ways of stewardship, justice and mercy. They are, of course, part of the church - and we've been charged with leading the whole of the congregation in these ways.
But then I got to more wondering... particularly about whether, if as a church, maybe we weren't doing enough. Then I asked myself the question: "how young is too young to be on council; to be a deacon?" We see young people do profession of faith while in their teens - but then what? Could there be a place for youth at the council table. A young, vibrant, passionate voice - one who potentially has been raised in the faith, and is Spirit-filled? One who may be overlooked because of their age - but might offer more wisdom than someone more than twice their age? Someone with a heart to serve, and a love of the church and community?
I'm not trying to say that youth are leaving the CRC because they aren't being elected to council - that's a more complex conversation. What I am saying is that all this youth talk gets me curious about how much listening to our youth we are doing - are we hearing them? are we respecting their voices? are we including them in the full life of the church?
And obviously I'm wondering what would happen if we had a teenage elder or deacon around the table. (Or as a delegate - not just advisor - to Synod!)
So, what do you think... how young is too young?