A monthly update from Hunter Farrell, director of World Mission, on the impact of Presbyterian mission in the world and the issues that affect mission co-workers, the people we walk with and assist in service to God, and our partners around the globe.
The Church You Grew Up In No Longer Exists
Ah, yes…who could forget the good old days? Your sanctuary was probably full then and the church’s youth group seemed to draw even kids whose families weren’t a part of the church. Those were the days when Catholic, mainline Protestant and evangelical congregations were all growing. At the national level, religious leaders were opinion leaders whom the nation listened to. It’s been said that a former Stated Clerk of our church called President John Kennedy and asked for an appointment with the President for that very week…and he got it!
But those days are gone. In what some commentators call our post-Christendom era, local pastors and national leaders no longer carry the clout they used to, membership in most churches from the PC(USA) to the Southern Baptists is decidedly slipping, and those of us with young adult children realize that the next generation does not find our way of “doing church” to be their way.
The church you grew up in no longer exists, but this new era offers some new and unique glimpses into how God is at work in our society today. . Here are three examples of “best practices” I’m seeing around the church of finding ways to connect deeply with rising generations around Christian faith:
- Chuck Curtis, a leader of the Santa Barbara Mission Conference, held each January at First Presbyterian Church-Santa Barbara, CA, took stock of Conference attendees and decided to open up the conference to younger folk. Conference planners shifted the schedule to allow young adults to attend on Friday evening when they were more likely to be free and invited speakers known by young adults who spoke on issues they wanted to hear: human trafficking, global poverty, and justice. The results have infused the conference with young adults who come and hear compelling stories…and some are now dedicating their lives to God’s mission around the world. Contact Chuck to see how they did it: email@example.com
- The Israel-Palestine Mission Network has long functioned as one of our church’s most effective mission networks, but last October decided to intentionally invite a dozen young adults to their annual meeting-- and they provided some financial help to make it possible. The young adults were moved by hearing stories of committed Presbyterians working to advocate for justice in Israel/Palestine— three were elected to the Network’s Steering Committee, dropping the average age of Steering Committee members by 15 years! As you can imagine, many of their conversations are focused around recruiting more young members into this mission of justice, which directly supports the concerns of our Palestinian church partners. Contact Moderator Jeff DeYoe to suggest the name of a young adult who might want to work with the Israel/Palestine Mission Network: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Even our own World Mission office has caught the wave: the 2012 General Assembly challenged the church to triple the number of Young Adult Volunteers (YAVs) serving in 9 U.S. and 5 international sites. The good news is that we’re on track to do just that: this year 90 YAVs are giving “a year of service for a lifetime of change” in 23 different sites around the globe. We’re recruiting right now for next year’s class, which should be our biggest ever. Why don’t you take a minute right now and encourage a young adult (ages 19-30) to apply for a YAV year? Have them check out www.pcusa.org/yav for program information or contact Linda Carter to make a financial contribution: Linda.Carter@pcusa.org
Whether your connection with God’s global mission is through a mission conference, a mission network, your presbytery or local congregation, imagine brainstorming with your colleagues about ways to include young adults. It will be a game changer!
Mission Matters Archives
December 2014 - A Harvest Beyond Our Wildest Dreams
November 2014 - Both Bricks and Mortar
October 2014 - Binding Threads
July 2014 - Abound in Hope: the 221st General Assembly (2014)
May 2014 - Training Leaders for Community Transformation
April 2014 - Ending Violence against Women and Children
March 2014 - 3 Critical Global Issues—#1: Quality education for 1 million children by 2020
February 2014 - CEDEPCA: Caring for God's Creation
January 2014 - Young Adult Volunteers: New YAV Sites Opening
December 2013 - We are truly better together
November 2013 - South Sudanese: Displaced by violence
October 2013 - Haiti: the Presbyterian Church is here to stay