As I read the quote from Alvin Toffler about how society views young people, I don’t think it’s a huge stretch if we substitute the word ‘society’ with ‘Christian Reformed Church'. At least this is the conclusion I came to after Classis Hamilton held a panel discussion to discuss the role of young people within the Christian Reformed Church.
The panel consisted of two people who left the Christian Reformed Church and are now attending another church, one recently came to appreciate the Christian Reformed Church through one of our campus ministries and another left the CRC but has returned. And then there was me — definitely not a young adult.
Our role was to share with the members of Classis, as well as the visitors, our perceptions of the CRC and their relation to young adults. Each began with an eight to ten-minute opening statement and then, we as panelists were subjected to questions from the audience. This whole process took just over one hour. Following the panel discussion, the audience was divided by Classis regions to discuss and talk about what they were going to do when they went back to their respective churches. This took another hour which we soon realized was too short.
After listening to my fellow panelists some thoughts arose concerning young adults in the Christian Reformed Church:
- The CRC needs to be truthfully authentic in their faith.
- There is not a ‘program’ or ‘quick fix solution’ for the current situation; it’s a journey.
- There is a need for mentorship — to journey with, authentically
- There is a huge desire among young adults to use their gifts/talents within the church and be appreciated for them.
These are just of few items that were shared — obviously there were more, but this gives some of the main points. These comments stirred the pot, ruffled a few feathers and made people sit back and contemplate how they were doing ministry within the context of the church. But I think the biggest outcome from this evening was that it showed young adults that the church, or at least this particular Classis, is willing to listen. The panelists were brutally honest as they shared their life stories and the Classis received them, ready to take the necessary steps.
I take my hat off to Classis Hamilton for being vulnerable and for having a true desire to listen to the young adults of today. They opened the door for conversation – one HUGE step in the right direction.
Being one of the panelists, it was a privilege and an honour to sit up on stage with my fellow panelists who shared openly. It took guts to do it. Thanks for being honest. It’s through your honestly that this Classis can move forward.
As a youth worker, may I encourage you to talk to your local Classis and encourage them to host such a panel at your next classis meeting? It’s an eye-opening experience. May I also encourage you to do something similar in your own local church? Gather some young adults from your church that would be bold enough to share their thoughts, views, and ideas about the CRC.
For our denomination to move forward and to curve current statistics that state that roughly 80% of young adults leave the church once they graduate high school, we need to begin to truly listen to the church of today — our young people!