We asked three GA participants to share some of their impressions and reflections on the topics of Youth and reaching the European Youth.
Shawn Boyd – Director of Fund Development at TWR Europe
One critical question was asked during the 2017 General Assembly: Are Europe’s evangelical churches aspirational enough for today’s youth? Sadly, the answer was a disappointing, “No.“
Dave Patty, founder of Josiah Venture, noted that young people today are connected through many networks, but are simultaneously fragmented by a lack of clear purpose for their future. This reality is further shaped by the fact that most Millennials come from single-parent homes. Sociologists call them global nomads and emerging adults because they are seeking purpose, family, identity and a future but are not finding what they seek. One contemporary lyricist accurately likens this generation to Peter Pan seeking Neverland. They want to belong, but often feel marginalized by the polarizing ideologies of humanist nihilism and oppressive religion.
We in the EEA must reflect upon this dilemma and offer today’s youth an interactive gospel. We must meet them on the highways where they travel, both physically and digitally. In doing so we must also create space for them to both be led, and to lead us, in this 2,000 year-old movement we call the Body of Christ.
During the GA, Dr. Rosalee Velloso Ewell reminded us that Jesus created spaces for conversations very intentionally. Dr. Krish Kandiah encouraged us to stop simply addressing the symptoms of our societal wounds and instead go after the root causes.
Young people today want to be engaged, not simply informed, by authentic people with a simple invitation to a world-changing movement.
Let’s start talking.
Dorina Nouta – Youth Network Manager at Missie Netherland
“Many questions of the youth work are of an ecclesiological nature: What does it mean to be a church? And how to be a church? At the GA, the unique thing is that church leaders and youth leaders meet. I am used to discuss youth only with other youth leaders. Here we have been sharing ideas about what it means to be a church today, together with everyone, not only on a national but also on a European level. This conversation should not be limited to encapsulated networks.
Generally the church is worried about losing the young people. Here we have been sharing experiences in opportunities to reach the youth. Our big success will be if we manage to inspire the church in Europe to think in possibilities again. We need this mind shift – and quickly!”
Gemma Willis – Content innovator at Scripture Union, UK
“As an organisation we are focused on reaching children and youth, especially those outside the church. This GA programme was spot on for our work. It addressed issues of today’s culture as we are trying to understand the young generation better. For me it was particularly helpful to realize that there are many similarities across Europe. I think that what we heard here will inspire conversations in our organisation on the bigger cultural issues.
Also it was really valuable to meet other younger faces and to find like-minded people. The conversation about youth that we had over dinner and in the interest group were really valuable. We discussed not just the culture, but also the increasing gap between youth and church. We all are trying to bridge this gap and if we work together it will be much more effective than working in our own little pockets”