This past week, our church gathered virtually for Methodist Conference 2021. In what I believe was one of the most interactive Conferences ever due to the advantages of technology, a common discussion point of Conference was the need for the church to look at its relationship with young people. This extended to areas such as membership and society all the way to representation at board and governance level.
It was extremely encouraging to witness and participate in these conversations. But the question remains - how do we take this talanoa and develop truly transformative action and vision from it?
Well, coming back to my story of the glasses, I believe it is as simple as this.
Allow the church to see itself through the eyes of our young people. Let them be the vision by which we live out the mission of Christ here and now.
The current lenses the church sees through are out-of-focus, blurred and unclear. They once provided the church the vision it needed for the time. But they no longer cut it. It's time for a new pair of lenses. A new pair of eyes. A new vision and a new way of doing and being church in Aotearoa New Zealand.
This doesn't dismiss the generations of people who have given to the church. It doesn't say current leaders are no longer relevant to where we are. Rather, it says, from the perspective of established leadership in the church - let our young people assist and shape the direction of the church together. Let us be an intergenerational and intentional church on the move.
The thing about glasses is, you constantly need to update your prescription. If I wore my very first pair of glasses from back then today, I wouldn't be able to see a thing. I've needed to change and adjust my lenses over time to have my vision be re-focused again.
For us, this would mean every incoming generation of young people who grow and develop in the life of the church would forever have a role to play in the adjustment and focus of our vision. This would empower every generation within our Hāhi to see their value and worth.
My prayer would be that this would become our vision, our perspective and our focus.
That we would be a church with young eyes.
by Michael Lemanu TCYFM