YOUTH ARE NOT ONLY THE LEADERS OF THE CHURCH TOMORROW by Bishop Dr. J. Akin Atere

Our Youth are not only the leaders of the Church tomorrow, they form a formidable part of the Church today. Therefore they should be guided to grow into maturity within the Church system. There is an amazing massive potential in them waiting to be released and if they are allowed they will become great assets to the Church.

The Bible admonishes our youths:

“Remember your creator in the days of your youth before the days of trouble come and the years approach, when you will say “I find no pleasure in them” before the sun and the light and the moon and the starts grow dark and the clouds return after the rain…” (Eccl. 12:1-12).

It is the duty of the Church to help the youths to remember their creator through education, counseling, recreational activities, Bible studies, worship and other programmes.

Unfortunately, we have not done all we should do to retain our youths in the Church. Many of them are outside the Church and they should be reached. Many of them don’t attend Church services. They are either in other denominations or out there playing football on Sundays or watching television at home while their parents are in the church. The media and internet meant for education, information and communication are now instruments for capturing the youth from the Church. Pornography has become a present day rage and our youths are exposed to them on the internet. The gays and lesbians are also committed to capturing our youth through the media. Because there are no jobs, many of our youths are easily lured into crime.  We must do something as a Church.

I hereby put across these suggestions for quick action:

  1. Our parishes must now focus on attracting and retaining the youths by putting life and vitality in our worship and other parish activities. However, while we try to attract them, we must not lose our identity as a Church in our services.
  2. Where possible, parishes could create time for youth worship on Sundays.
  3. Parishes must now vote money for youth activities like Boys Brigade, Youth Council, Girls Guild, Anglican Students Fellowship, Spinsters Fellowship, and Evangelical Fellowship in the Anglican Communion, Anglican Children Ministry etc.
  4. Every Parish should have a youth Co-ordinator to harmonize the youth ministry of the Parish.
  5. The major need of the youth is knowledge, lack of knowledge and spiritual guidance make the youth vulnerable to false knowledge. Sunday school, confirmation classes and other Bible Studies for youth should be taken seriously. There should be enough time to prepare our youth for confirmation. Seminar and special teaching should be organized frequently for our youth.
  6. The social aspect of the gospel is also important for everybody especially our youth. The parish should be involved in providing for the recreation of the youth as well as their social welfare, we have bought for them footballs, this has greatly done much in bringing the Diocesan youth together. St. Timothy team won the last competition.
  7. God parents should take their responsibilities more seriously. Special classes should be arranged to teach parents and Godparents on their duties in the church. Parents and God parents should ensure that our youth attend Church services regularly.
  8. Programmes arranged for our youths at the Diocesan level should be taken seriously and youths should be sponsored to attend such programmes.
  9. We (adults) should live as role models so that our youth may see Christ in us as we lead them to Christ.
  10. Parishes should spend more on musical instruments and other modern equipments that will make services more attractive to our youth.