by Vicki Rochow

Where have all the young people gone?

I wonder whether this is the wrong question to ask.

Imagine a farmer standing arms folded and asking, ‘Who didn’t shut the gate?’, while watching his sheep flee up the road and onto the highway. Would he not instead close the gate to protect the sheep still in the paddock, before going out to look for those who are lost?

Likewise, as a church, could we instead ask, ‘How can we love and encourage the young people who are still here, while reaching out to those we no longer see?’

I have met many LCA/NZ young people who have a vibrant faith. They are active in their local congregations and communities, sharing and serving.

Grow Ministries has been working for six years to support and equip congregations to move from isolated programs for children and young people to an intergenerational ministry culture that nurtures faith for life. Part of that process is to share with congregations the 10 Guiding Principles that have been developed to assist congregations to disciple people of all ages, including young people.

One way we can ‘grow’, equip and encourage young leaders is through the LCA/NZ’s Grow Leadership (GL) program. GL is an 11-month part-time commitment targetted at young adults. It involves two face-to-face intensives, a ‘Stretch and Grow’ experience overseas (in partnership with LCA International Mission), regular one-on-one mentoring and involvement in local congregational leadership.

The aim is to provide participants with a mentored faith adventure, enabling them to grow in the gospel and empowering them to become leaders with skills to contribute to the church and the wider community.

The 2019 Grow Leadership team met in the Adelaide Hills in July for Intensive 1. During that time we discussed the theme of this issue of The Lutheran, ‘Where have all the young people gone?’ One young person felt frustrated by the theme – ‘It makes me angry because I’m still here!’ As well as asking for their reactions to the theme, we asked why they are still engaged, involved with and participating in the LCA/NZ, including through GL.

Vicki Rochow is communications and Grow Leadership coordinator for Grow Ministries.

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