For the past three years, 22-year-old Elsa Matthias has represented the LCANZ on the Global Young Reformers Network (GYRN). An initiative of the Lutheran World Federation, the network was created in 2014 by youth for youth and aims to connect young people who are active in their local Lutheran communities. Also a member of the network steering committee representing the Asian region, Elsa is pictured above speaking at the recent Asian Church Leaders Conference in Thailand. She explains the value of these collaborations …

How can we bring the voice of the youth into our church? How do we do this so that the work of the youth can be considered the work of the church?

These are questions I have been exploring with youth around the globe. And guess what? We in Australia and New Zealand are not the only ones to have these questions! Other churches within our South-East Asian region also struggle with the best ways to bring youth into the leadership structures of the church.

At the recent Asian Church Leaders Conference, young people were able to bring these questions to others before God. We may not have the answers yet, but to follow are some ideas raised.

  • Provide ownership of programs to youth: If there are passionate young people within your congregation, give them the opportunity to take the reins with your support. Allow them to lead programs or offer ideas for the whole church.
  • Gather churchwide youth to be part of Lutheran fellowship together: Lutheran youth in Australia and New Zealand are often spread so far apart that we can feel like we’re the only ones. So, for example, hold a half-yearly gathering to show youth that they are part of something larger.
  • Invite youth to join decision-making bodies: There are many ways to continue Lutheran reformation, and these can start within local congregations when youth feel empowered to lead. And encourage youth with leadership passion to serve on churchwide decision-making bodies. I have been on the International Mission committee for more than three years, and it is such a worthwhile experience.
  • Bring back ideas: It’s unlikely you knew what I have been doing within the GYRN – which is fair enough. But I’m not the only young person involved in mission. Do you know those in your church who are? Your congregation could establish a system by which youth who do mission can bring ideas, stories and projects back to your whole church, not just to the youth.

No matter how old we are, we are all aiming for one goal – sharing the gospel for the glory of God! It is my prayer that the LCANZ can be an agent of God’s love and an agent of change within our local, regional and global contexts. I pray that we can continue to welcome ideas that lead to the continual reformation of the church.

Elsa Matthias is a member of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church Horsham in Victoria.

Already a subscriber? Click here to login and read this article.
Not a subscriber? Click here to receive stories & upcoming issues in full