2. Contact

CORe churches stay in contact with young people who are on the move.

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up the other; but woe to one who is alone and falls and does not have another to help. (Ecclesiastes 4:9–10)


Additional Bible texts:

Malachi 3:16-17 (Scroll of remembrance)

Matthew 10:1-8 (‘Go first to the lost sheep of Israel’)

Youth mobility has been growing steadily for the last decades. Young people move around a lot: schools, colleges, universities, new jobs. When moving to a new city, with finding new accommodation and making new friends often finding a new church is low on the list of priorities. Young people, especially students, can lose touch with their safe, home church and never find a new church to make their home.

CORe churches keep in touch with young people who move. Young people who leave, but also young people who arrive. They alert sister churches of new arrivals. This way no one falls through the net. CORe churches make sure that finding a new church is not a task associated with a move, but a benefit assisting in a move. CORe churches stay in contact with young people who are on the move.

Thought

Thomas Rasmussen, Denmark

More than half of the world’s population live in cities. We come in contact with people all the time, and often we are in contact with so many people that we do not have very many close relationships. We don’t have many good friends that we know we can always count on. And that’s dangerous, because it means that we lose touch with each other, because we try to keep in contact with everybody.

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up the other; but woe to one who is alone and falls and does not have another to help. (Ecclesiastes 4:9–10)


Many young people leave the church, not because they choose to, but because we lose contact with them. Because we do not stay in contact. Because we do not get in contact with new young people that move to our area. How can we be better at getting in contact? In your church, be in contact with neighboring churches. Be in contact with your area coordinator or youth director. Let them know, that this is a church that values young people and wants to be sure that nobody moving into your area is dropped. How about when young people move away? Do you stay in contact? And how?

The New Testament is full of letters. Many of them from Paul, and when you read his introductions, you can just hear how he wishes he could be right there with them. ‘I am writing this in big letters,’ he says. ‘When I come visit you,’ he promises. And most importantly, you can tell that he genuinely cares about the members’ well-being and their salvation.

Contact is about making lists. It’s about remembering. When you look around in your church, who do see? Who do you not see? Maybe you have had a pathfinder club for years, but many of those pathfinders are long gone, and they are no longer part of your church family. Maybe you have seen numerous students move to your city, but are you in contact with them? Have they become involved in the church? What did you do to welcome the students? What did you do to involve the pathfinders in other activities as well? And what can you do now?

Often we take it for granted that young people who move to a new city will automatically find the nearest church. But what if you got in contact with them even before they came to your city? Maybe you could help them out, instead of waiting for them to seek you out.

When I moved home to Denmark after attending Newbold College, I moved into a flat in Copenhagen, and I still remember two things about that move. When I got there, the treasurer was waiting for me with a key to my flat. He gave me the key, but then he did not just go back to the office. He helped me carry a lot of my heavy stuff up the stairs. When I eventually got settled in, a big envelope arrived in the mail, not from the church, but from the city council. Inside was a letter from the mayor welcoming me to this city. But there wasn’t just a letter. There was a cinema ticket. A free pass to the swimming pool, and about eight other free entrances were available. It was clear that she wanted me to feel at home. And it worked.

Contact is about more than simply young peoples' spiritual welfare. It’s about them. What can you do? Who can you contact? And how can you show them that they are not alone, because you are there?

Discussion 

  • Have you lost contact with any close friends over the years? Why?
  • Do you know of any members that you have lost contact with?
  • What contributes to you losing touch with your members and young people?

Implementation questions

  • What do you already do to stay in contact young people?
  • Are there elements of your church’s culture that need changing to stay in contact more?
  • What can we do to better implement contact in your church?
  • Can we implement at least 3 of the suggestions below?
  • What is achievable to enlarge our contact with people on the move within the next 12 months?

Suggestions for implementation

  • Have an up-to-date list of all young people, updated regularly through contact with schools, and churches around the union.
  • Have a ’historic’ list that is used to intentionally re-connect with young people who are no longer in contact with the church.
  • Register with the local university chaplaincy services so that SDA students can be given information about the local SDA church.
  • Develop a welcome pack for new students.
  • Arrange a student 'kick-off' Sabbath at the beginning of the university year.
  • Communicate details of students leaving the area after studies (or to begin study in another area) quickly and clearly to the church in the area of destination.
  • Organise a home-coming Sabbath.
  • Use social media to stay in contact with members who have moved away.

 

Guidelines for Lists and Welcome 145 kB download