A word from Reverend, Dr. Allison Byerley, Senior Pastor
Our District Superintendent, Debra Brady, has encouraged us to apply for the "Grow Younger" initiative the Conference Healthy Church Initiative and Fuller Youth Institute are offering. This program, which lasts a year, aims to help churches engage with and be in ministry to young people in their communities.
The Fuller Youth Institute has studied over 250 congregations that are growing and growing younger to learn what they do right and how to bring that to other churches. They have identified six essential strategies which any church can utilize. The Conference has partnered with them to help thirty churches in our Conference learn the strategies and implement some or all in their congregations. The program offers two in-person summits, webinars, coaching, and access to a diagnostic test that will help guide our efforts.
There is a cost to be a part of this, though the Conference covers the majority of costs. Just as we ask families to contribute to the cost of camp, the churches involved will be asked to contribute. There is a sliding scale based on worship attendance.
This is a great opportunity for us, and a big vote of confidence in this church and our future, by Debra Brady! I am excited and ready to be part of this initiative. However, there is a BUT.
If only the pastor is ready to be part of this, we should not go forward.
If we are not ready to embrace young people, meeting them where they are, rather than where we are or want them to be, we should not go forward.
If we want to stay the way we are and are not open to the changes young people bring, we should not go forward.
If we are not ready to give more than lip service to our desire to reach younger people, we should not go forward.
BUT, if we ARE ready to open our doors and our hearts to young people, if we DO want to grow younger, then let us go forward and trust that God is leading the way. Let's build those relationships that will last for eternity and give young people hope and grounding in an ever-changing world.
Our Council on Ministries will be discussing this program and our participation in it at the meeting on May 8th at 4 PM. If you would like to be part of the discussion, we invite you to attend. If you have a comment or question, please send it to me or Kerri Gibbons, our Council on Ministries Chair. And please be in prayer as we listen for God's guidance.