Rev Allen Goliath on why not to worry about numbers in youth ministry.

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The Reverend Allen Goliath is the Priest Assisting in St George’s Chathedral in Cape Town. He spoke on the topic of “The church as a home for the youth” at this year’s Winter School in Stellenbosch.

He explained that parachurch organizations did the youth work in the past. This has changed. The growth of the charismatic church as well as the changes in the country has led to these changes. In the nineties the church suddenly realized they’re losing the youth. They started investing in youth ministry with youth ministers, budgets, buildings etc. BUT now the youth worker has the pressure to keep up the numbers.

Democracy means that schools are not our biggest partners in ministry anymore as they are open for everyone and serve different religions.

The church needs to keep up with changes…

The result is that Sunday school now has to be and do so much more. Scholars’ programmes also are very full – this adds to the challenge of doing youth work.

The mindset of churches need to change…

National development means that our youth leave home to study and work in other places. Young adults leave (work and marry and live globally). Youth workers are not trained to keep up numbers but to minister. That should remain their focus. The problem is not the youth coming and going and moving between churches of cities… Because we are meant to be missional! Rather worry about what we do with them when they are there!

Empower and equip them for worship, witness and service, wherever they go!!

Youth ministry is not an add on. It is the key business of the church. We should focus on it.

“When I’ve got your child, I’ve got your whole family, your wallet, your attention, your time. Make a child a tree in the concert and the whole extended family comes!! What an opportunity!”

The thought that Goliath left me with, is that we should not get discouraged if the youth leave the church, but we should ask the reason why. Are they merely moving on, changing churches or cities? Or do they not feel as if the church is their home? Are they equipped to worship, witness and serve when they leave? If so, we have done our duty.