Teens in Our Synod, Today
by Kathye Hamm
A frequent comment I hear as I’m out and about in our synod is something like “the youth are the future of the church!” I hear it in occasions lamenting the fact the youth are not present in congregations the way they used to be – as well in occasions where youth are present and publicly leading. I get it – we see the teens and children in our faith communities and we see the future – they are the ones who will be leading these places we love when we are gone. Or, we wonder who will lead when we’re gone. And while I understand that, I have a stock answer that I give every time: “The youth are the now of the church.”
I think this has always been true, but it may be more truer than ever in the 21st century. This really hit me as I’ve watched the teenagers from Parkland, FL take to social media, and interact with adult journalists and politicians, and deal with sudden notoriety while dealing with their own grief and loss and anger. They have not been perfect, but they have been bold and honest and fierce. One of the most amazing things that I have seen among this group is the way they build each other up and support each other. They are not perfect, and I’m sure they fight and squabble, but they are clearly in this together, and they are committed to working with and for each other toward the larger goal of access to guns, especially weapons like the AR-15.
When I have asked teens what they hope for the church, they give answers that are surprising to many people. I think people are surprised because they are the same hopes that many adults have – that the church would be a place where the gospel is heard and empowers people to reach out in service and love to all; that the church would be a place where all people can be seen and loved and valued for their gifts; that the church would be a safe place for all people to ask their questions and wonder together how God is active in their lives and the lives of the world.
I wonder, as I see teenagers leading so publicly in Florida: What are the teens saying to us, in our synod, today? How can we listen with humility and with an ear to how they are leading us in the now, and into the future? We need only ask – I’m quite certain they have opinions, dreams and hopes they will be willing to share!
Pr. Katy Grindberg
September 18, 2018
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