By young people for young people

Not quite a year from now, the Church will be celebrating its International Youth Convention 2019. For the young people—who are in the process of graduating, starting their first jobs, or moving in with their first roommate—this is still a long time. But for the organisers, who are doing their best to plan an event that is to thrill some 30,000 participants, time is short.

Amanda, who lives in Pforzheim (Germany), knows a lot about planning and organising major events. As an event manager, she has already planned and organised a number of youth events for the Church. No wonder that she was recommended when the IYC Planning Committee Contents was looking for additional young members.

Amanda has taken a day off from work to attend a meeting of the planning committee in Bad Camberg. In the evening, the group drives to the church in the nearby town of Taunusstein, where a group of young people are working on a project for the International Youth Convention 2019. After a short round of introductions, they all disappear into the various rooms of the church to continue with their projects.

Making faith concrete

Anna Caroline, Anke, Benjamin, Jasmin, and Vanessa are seated in the mother’s room. Bishop Ralph Wittich and Apostle Uli Falk from the IYC Planning Committee join them, keen to learn more about the project they have been working on for the past five months: they want to make the Catechism a little more youth-friendly. “Our idea: a product by the youth for the youth that makes faith tangible and concrete, and shows that it can be fun,” Benjamin explains, who is in charge of the project. The five young people have been meeting once a month for about the last year. The concept for their project is in place. What they are working on now is putting their ideas together and implementing them.

Vanessa is 18. Her confirmation is not all that long ago. “Sure, I learned the Articles of Faith by heart. But what do they tell me?” Having experienced themselves that many statements of faith remain rather theoretical and do not seem to have a concrete connection to their everyday lives, the group plans to offer a more practical approach to these topics for young Christians.

A more fun Catechism

In a game box they have created, there is a card game, Hit The Deck, based on our Articles of Faith and a kind of biblical speed-dating game. For the latter, two players sit across from each other, each one personifying a character from the Bible. By responding to yes/no questions, the two players have to guess which biblical character the other one is playing.

The youth group does a test-run of the Articles-of-Faith card game with the Planning Committee. Cards are distributed to the players. One of the players reads an Article of Faith. When a player gives the appropriate generic term, the other players quickly put their hands on top of the deck in the middle. The player who is last has to draw the card. It works. After a few rounds, the players can easily retrieve the Articles of Faith that are buried deep in the nether regions of their memory.

The youth group has designed the games in such a way that they can easily be printed or played using a free app. They have also recorded video instructions. For the design of the game box and the videos the group is hoping to get some professional help, as well as for the theological verification and translation of the games into other languages.

Women in the Church

In the sacristy, sisters and brothers are sitting around the table. The Project Group Women is brainstorming topics they would like to see treated at the International Youth Convention 2019, and Amanda is writing down notes on the flipchart. They all agree not to address the issue of women in ministry. “This is a subject that the Chief Apostle and the District Apostles will pick up on when the time comes,” says Apostle Opdenplatz. But women occupy an important place in the Church, and there are many fields in which they can become involved, but which perhaps not all districts and congregations are utilising yet. The members of both working groups are keen to explain what all female youth members can do in the Church and where they can help along in shaping things.

The project groups were so absorbed in their brainstorming that they would undoubtedly have lost track of time completely, if a commotion coming from the entrance hall had not interrupted their musings. Young people began to file into the church past large crates with dishes, fruit, and hot food wells. It was time for dinner with the youth from the congregations of Taunusstein and Bad Schwalbach.

The focus is more on short-term goals

Over antipasti, pasta, and apple juice, the youth talk about what they expect from the International Youth Convention 2019, what contents they would like, and how they would like to be kept up to speed about everything. The members of the planning committee find out that young people nowadays want to decide on and choose events spontaneously and last minute. Planning for long-term goals is not really for them.

“I have the feeling that the IYC has not yet sunk in. For many young people the year 2019 is still far away,” Amanda says. It is high time that this changes, the group in Taunusstein decides. And for this to change it is going to take people like Hannes, who is a youth leader in the Taunusstein congregation. “I was at the European Youth Day in 2009, and it was such an awesome experience that I will do everything in my power that the youth in my congregation can experience the same thrill in 2019.”

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