COI Gazette – 7th September 2018

Youth ministry matters

Young people enjoying activities organised by CIYD. (Photo courtesy of CIYD)

Young people enjoying activities organised by CIYD. (Photo courtesy of CIYD)

To mark International Youth Day in August, Kaitlyn Hyde, who works with her husband Daniel in the Youth Ministry Team for the US- based Episcopal Church’s diocese of Albany, reflects on the importance of youth ministry.

I cannot speak for God, for all the Anglican Communion, or even for all members of my diocese. I am, however, honoured to speak as a member of the Body of Christ on what I have discovered about the importance of youth ministry.

I am sure you have heard the cliché “What would Jesus do?” I believe we should ask ourselves that very question when it comes to ministering to our youth.

When Jesus chose his disciples, who did he call? He hand-selected and entrusted a group of young men that today we would probably think of as ‘teenagers’ – certainly 20-somethings at most. If that is who Jesus had on his team, then that is who I want on mine!

And Jesus does not just start with teenagers, he speaks even to the youngest of children. In Matthew 19:14 Jesus calls the “little children” to come to him. No one is too young to come to Christ.


Editorial

FAILING FORWARD

John Maxwell tells a story about getting used to failure, in his book Failing Forward.

“Four monkeys were placed in a room that had a tall pole in the centre. Suspended from the top of that pole was a bunch of bananas. One of the hungry monkeys started climbing the pole to get something to eat, but just as he reached out to grab a banana, he was doused with a torrent of cold water. Squealing, he scampered back down the pole and abandoned his attempt to feed himself. Each monkey made a similar attempt and each one was drenched with cold water. After making several attempts, they finally gave up.

“Then researchers removed one of the monkeys from the room and replaced him with a new monkey. As the newcomer began to climb the pole, the other three grabbed him and pulled him down to the ground. After trying to climb the pole several times and being dragged down by the others, he finally gave up and never attempted to climb the pole again.

“The researchers replaced the original monkeys, one by one, and each time a new monkey was brought in, he would be dragged down by the others before he could reach the bananas. In time, the room was filled with monkeys who had never received a cold shower. None of them would climb the pole, but not one of them knew why!”

As the months, even years, tick by we forget what it was like to have a functioning Stormont Executive. Few of us can even remember the last time any substantial talks took place to break the
deadlock. We have become used to the cycle of failure to reach political compromise. The hopes of people have been well deluged with the cold water of sectarian politics, dressed up to look like something else. So much so that we have become used to disappointment.

More importantly, political leadership of all hues has become accustomed to deadlock and the trench warfare of sectarian politics – the danger is that the body politic ends up believing that nonfunctioning government is acceptable, or indeed inevitable. It is neither.

Normal politics is about governing, making decisions – getting things done. For the vast majority of people it is about the ordinary things that actually have an impact on everyday life: health, education, welfare or whether the roads get fixed. For politics to function it needs to move on to expending most of its energy on those things – otherwise we remain trapped.

Matt Dabbs reflects on the Maxwell story: “I wonder how many things in life I am too scared to try, not because the task is impossible, but because I have just never evaluated if there was a better way of getting it done.”

We refuse to become accustomed to the politics of deadlock – to believe that this is the best we can hope for. Political leadership needs to demonstrate that it believes the same. There are only so many cold showers you can deluge people with.


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Letters to the editor

GAFCON Ireland

THE RECENT correspondence in the Gazette in relation to the attendance of two bishops and other ministers at the GAFCON conference in Jerusalem, criticism of GAFCON Ireland and the decision of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland on policy and doctrine has, after prayer and reflection, compelled a response.

I am not a member of GAFCON Ireland. Within the ecclesial spectrum and entity known as the Church of Ireland I would sit firmly within the evangelical, reformed and protestant domain. My theological position is conservative and my view of church is missional. I have completed the Certificate in Ministry at the Church of Ireland Theological Institute and hold an honours degree in theology through Union Theological College, Belfast. I have strong connections with the Church of Ireland and the Presbyterian Church in Ireland.

Firstly, I believe that anyone who has a personal faith and relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ is a christian.

Secondly, the Bible is my final rule of faith and practice. It is God’s revelation, the ‘highway code’ read under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, illuminating one’s personal conscience. Scripture is “sufficient” (Article 6 of the 39 Articles). Scripture is in ‘pole position’ and in a place of ‘primacy’. Tradition, resources of reason and experience are important but subordinate to Scripture.

Thirdly, GAFCON Ireland is merely a manifestation of a group of people who, in conscience, have a theological position which is their understanding of biblical truth. They are good people who are attempting to live as authentic witnesses to Christ, through a transforming faith, in giving effective leadership within a biblical matrix. This group is made up of bishops, presbyters and deacons as well as those who exercise no ecclesial function but are the community of Christ.

Fourthly, in relation to the decisions of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, such decisions are an internal matter for the largest Protestant Church in Northern Ireland. Any attempt to exclude their representatives from attendance at the 2019 General Synod in Londonderry would be negative.

What really concerns me are the vast number of people (especially young people) who have no interest, knowledge or cognition of God, Jesus or the things of God. They are disconnected from the Church and the Church is disconnected from them. The mission of the Church is to spread the Gospel – this is an imperative (Matthew 28:19-20).

Missional ministry is the only vehicle to connect the people to the love and salvation of Jesus Christ (1 John 3:16-17). It is only through God’s activating power, through new and fresh approaches in evangelical and missiological intervention, that this message will be conveyed to the people. It is all about Jesus, so I pray that the Church may outreach to the community with the Gospel.

John Collins

Belfast

I AM disturbed by the inflammatory comments made about GAFCON in recent editions of the Gazette, not least because they are perverse and untrue.

The Anglican Communion styles itself ‘a broad church,’ and boasts of its ‘genius’ for tolerating various strands of theological opinion, including that of clerics and lay folk who deny the virgin birth, the miracles or physical resurrection of Christ, or even something as basic as the inspiration of Scripture.

Why, then, should two evangelical bishops be ‘named and shamed’ for attending a conference that upholds the values of the 39 Articles? Few (if any) liberal clergy in the Church of Ireland subscribe to the 39 Articles, even though they are required to. Yet it has not prevented them from carving out careers in the Church.

Neither of the bishops concerned have ever demeaned or vilified liberal colleagues for their beliefs, or for attending conventions that advocate moral or doctrinal views at odds with their own.

It is not GAFCON that is destroying Anglican unity, but intolerant liberals who are showing that they are not as ‘inclusive’ as they make themselves out to be. The truth is that, of course, there is no ‘unity’ to undermine. Liberals and conservatives are preaching different Gospels.

Brendan Devitt (Dr)
Hitchin, Hertfordshire


 

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