Young leaders within the Synod of Vic/Tas have called on the Church to be prepared to look beyond their own generation and to sit alongside and engage with the emerging generation of leaders.
These young leaders were among six people who shared stories in an evening program which focused on sustainable leadership and generational change.
The session was developed by the Synod’s Creative Design team and led by team members Aaron Blakemore and Bethany Broadstock.
The young people presenting clearly think deeply and care for their church even more deeply. They showed they were desperate to engage and to be engaged with by the church as a whole.
And the questions they posed Synod members – without directly asking – were profound.
St Mark’s Uniting Church youth pastor Hannah Dungan spoke abut “the busy little pastor” who took on more and more until they reached their limit.
And all the time the busy little pastor was viewed as “a baby, a kid (and) good for a girl.’’
“It is funny how the Church will take what you give until your energy runs out like a sieve,’’ she said.
Endeavour Hills Uniting Church minister Robin Yang – one of the first Second Generation Koreans to enter ministry – said he could remember a time when his church in Sydney enjoyed massive growth with a burgeoning youth group.
But, after several conflicts within the church – “Which is what the Korean Church calls church plants,’’ he joked – about 80 per cent of the young people left.
It has left Robin pondering, questioning and researching what is commonly known within the migrant church as the silent exodus.
“As a church we are called to pass on the gospel but are we actually passing on culture?’’ he asked.
Manningham Uniting Church minister Rev Lucas Taylor admits while he does not consider himself young – at the age of 36 – he does comes from a different generation to most of his congregation.
But, he stressed that it was important for all to continually seek opportunities to engage not only with people of a familiar generation but across the broad cross-section of generations which make up our communities.
Lucas said it was important to consider the words used and how they could impact negatively, even though unintentionally, during cross-generational engagement.
“It is the comments (young people might receive) about our dress or hair. Comments which suggest we may be tolerated but never embraced or welcome.’’
Shepparton teacher Jen Shields, who leads a youth group, said it was important the whole church sought to share across the generational divide.
“Let’s keep sharing, walking together and seeking community.’’
Anika Jensen and Rev Jennie Gordon also shared their stories and experiences within the life of the church.
All the story tellers were warmly received and embraced by the Synod members.