The Youth Presentation at the conference took on a discussion format. Following are some of the viewpoints which were shared there. The content was at times critical, and at times understanding. The call was for acceptance and inclusion of youth in the life of the Church.
"The young people have never been asked what they feel and why they don't want to go to worship anymore. For the congregations they are 'the bad new generation,' which doesn't believe in God anymore. Contrary to this opinion, I have found that young people take their spiritual life and faith very seriously. They want to contribute their visions and ideas to the church. We shouldn't forget that they are equal church members and we need their voices to do our missionary work in an integrated way. Young people are calling for more participation when it comes to designing the future plans of the church. They are not willing to wait passively for their turn in the leadership of church and society, which usually comes after they are grown up and have lost their youth perspective. They do not want to be left with the only option of being negative critics and rebels. They are ready to take part in the decision and share the responsibility associated with it."
"I would appreciate an exciting worship with lively music and dance. I don't like the songs we sing there. There is no life in it. I want to express my joy about God's good message and I want to celebrate. The pastors also often use a language which I don't understand."
"I don't feel welcome at church. The people in the church are very nice to me. I don't want them to be nice to me, but to be interested in me as a person and see me as an equal member of our church. I sometimes feel like they reject the real 'me' in a very polite way. I want to be accepted for who I am. Therefore I prefer to stay with my friends."
"People are so proud about the new millennium, but actually, it is just a new year with a lot of problems. Life will be more complicated. I have a lot of problems. I was so desperate that I took drugs. Now I am a drug addict. I don't know how to solve my problem. My parents think that it is a big sin and they are ashamed. They don't want to speak to the pastor about my problem. So I can't get help from my church."
"I want to be useful. Any time I wanted to contribute my opinion, I was told that this is not the way of doing things. I don't really understand the tradition of my church. It is so far away from what I experience outside. I don't understand why we have to follow always the tradition and why we can't include modern methodologies. I want to use the Internet, for example, to become more modern."
A bishop participating in the meeting raised a concern that perhaps the young people in the church, "want to skip our Lutheran traditions," and the response: "No, not at all."
"This is always the major fear of the church leaders. We think that the traditions are very important to guide our churches on the way to follow Jesus. However, we feel that the traditions in our churches are not really guiding us now, but restricting our creativity. Furthermore, just like Jesus, we need to be constantly aware and sensitive to the needs of others. Jesus chose to be uncomfortable in order to reach out. Building bridges will require work, will require sensitivity to the needs and wants of others and this will make us uncomfortable.
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