SEARCH Journal

Beatitudes – worship to bless young people

MEMBERS of the Church of Ireland are not immune to the allure of mission statistics and prophecies of decline. We are often bombarded by figure after figure, showing us that our churches are currently haemorrhaging young people at a staggering rate. A great deal of our time, energy, and resources are therefore invested into how we might go about healing this gaping wound – or, at the very least, into how we might patch it up and temporarily stem the flow.

As one of the youngest members of the clergy serving in the Church of Ireland, I am often drawn into conversations about ministry to young people. Two concerns tend to dominate these conversations. First, I am usually asked what might constitute ‘a good first aid kit’? In other words, what might reduce the flow of young people from our churches? I might call this the damage limitation’ approach to youth ministry. Then I am asked what I think might make the church attractive to young people in the first place. I might call this the ‘preventative measures’ approach. These conversations inevitably rationalise peoples’ own ideas, preferences, and agendas, usually involving some reference to the old adage that ‘prevention is better than cure’, and end with me saying that we ought to take heart; the Christian faith is not any less true simply because it is less widely accepted than in times past.

* Full article available in printed copies.

Christopher West

Irish Anglican priest