Pushing young people out the door

Readers who are interested in evangelism, church planting and emerging church issues will enjoy this edifying essay by the Rev. Tom Brackett on his exploration of the Fresh Expression movement in the Church of England. Tom asked many of the people he met what they would have done differently had they known 20 years ago the effect that secularization would have on European society and the European Church. They responded:

Twenty years ago, we were actively pushing our young people out the doors of our churches and Dioceses. We didn’t mean to – it’s just that we wouldn’t make room for them in our activities; we didn’t include their voices in our public conversations; we didn’t ask them for stories of their encounters with the good news of God as known in Jesus Christ. As a result, we lost them. They went elsewhere to find expression for their gifts. Today, there is little likelihood of attracting them back into our Church. In their absence, we lost sight of the huge gap growing between the insider language of the Church and the realities of the Culture we are called to serve. Now that’s a huge loss, but it’s not the biggest loss we’ve experienced, subsequently.

The greater loss is that we forgot how to nurture the prophetic voice in our midst. We’ve forgotten how to foster new young leaders in nurturing and mutually-shaping communities. Today, we are working on bringing new young leaders into our churches but that’s not the same as nurturing the prophetic voice in community – training new leaders to cultivate community with a hoe instead of directing with the Verger’s mace. That takes time to develop! It’s an art of “being in community” that very few have ever experienced, nonetheless mastered.

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