Strong youth participation in churches 101

October 29, 2009 in Youth, Youth Ministry, Youth participation

Dear regular reader,

No, for youth participation is not a new topic for you. If read about before in these pages, for example here, here and here. But we want to take the next step.

A LWF Youth consultation from 28 August – 1 September 2009 brought together 10 young people from all LWF regions to discuss youth participation in decision making (the full report is available here in pdf). They discussed the theological reasons for stronger youth involvement in all aspects of the life of the church including decision making from the perspective of baptismal theology.

While there are major differences between the approaches to youth in decision-making in different cultures, the consultation was able to develop a list of criteria for good youth participation in decision-making. This set of criteria is designed to support churches in discussing how to improve youth participation in their particular setting.

A similar purpose serves the distinction between three basic approaches to youth participation that was recognizable across cultures:

  • The informal inclusion gives young people space to participate on an ad-hoc basis. However, it is also often left to chance.
  • The formal inclusion sets aside a certain number of seats on committees to young people. While this ensures the steady presence of young people in decision-making, it limits the view for broader opportunities for young people.
  • Finally, fostering strong youth organizations supports the creativity and self-organizing capabilities of young people. However, it also makes it possible that there is not enough integration in the wider inter-generational setting of the church.

Next steps in the process:

  • An online consultation broadens the perspective to experiences of other churches and other generations.
  • The findings will be published together with case studies from some churches.
  • The printed report will be available for the Pre-Assembly Youth Conference and the the LWF Assembly in 2010.

So stay tuned: More is coming soon!