Academic journal article International Review of Mission

Youth in Mission Amidst an Emerging "Youth" Culture

Academic journal article International Review of Mission

Youth in Mission Amidst an Emerging "Youth" Culture

Article excerpt

The church perhaps should be one community in this world that has a clear mission. All the books of the Bible, in some way or other, express this mission. It was further made explicit by Christ Jesus, through his life on earth. Although the church is well experienced in mission, thanks to its involvement over centuries, we need to continue our search for meaningful forms of mission involvement. This is because mission is contextual and contexts are not the same as ever. The changing nature of contexts and the contextual dependency of mission make it compulsory for mission to be free from orthodoxy. Our understanding of mission needs to be dynamic and young, full of vibrancy and life. The past experience of the church in mission, therefore, should not be a limiting factor but rather an encouraging factor. In order to make the church a dynamic force realizing its eschatological mission, we need to be unconventional and futuristic. This paper attempts to study the role of youth in mission in three parts. The first part deals with the theological significance of youth, the second part analyzes the context in which our young people live and identifies the dimensions of a new culture that is spreading among youth; the concluding part suggests from where young people should begin their role in mission.

Theological significance of youth in the context of mission

Continuity and perfection of mission

Youth is a symbol of strength and hope. Young people represent newness and change. Therefore it is in the interest of any progressive organization to pay special attention to the problems and promises as well as the challenges and opportunities that are present in potent form among young people. The church has historical and eschatological dimensions. It has a long past and at the same time a longer future. Its faith is enriched by the past and its hope is shrouded in the future. Therefore the church is a community of faith, oriented towards the future. Since the church is concerned about the future, it cannot afford to ignore youth and the younger generation. The future belongs to them. Hence preparing the youth of today is in real terms an investment in the church of tomorrow.

Young people have a special significance in the context of mission. Mission is the inherent task of the church. In order that mission may continue, the church has to develop the young people so that they will improve on what is good, and add a lot more, surpassing today's imagination. In other words, youth have two possibilities: continuing and perfecting mission. Therefore, the need for continuity and perfection of the mission necessitates a different approach to youth. Often it is not clear whether the church has understood youth from the perspectives of continuity and perfection of its mission. We do not have much evidence from contemporary church history of a concerted and conscious action initiated towards this direction. Rather, youth are seen as "vulnerable" people who have to be "saved" and to be made "mature." Youth ministry by and large has been trying to make young people conform to outdated values. Providing continuity of the essential biblical values and perfecting their existential application involves a process of allowing the old concepts to die and new values to blossom. Like any other organism, the church also has to accept the "crisis of growth" in which the pain of giving up is indispensable from the joy of growth. The church has to have a new approach to understanding youth.

Theology of creativity

One of the standard criticisms in church circles is that the young people are not available for church-related activities. On the other hand, the young people also complain that the church does not interest them. Why this dichotomy and why is there mutual exclusion? Church activities, including worship, are becoming stereotyped monotony. This calls for a perusal of our theologies. The dominant theologies of the church revolve around the concepts of "sin and salvation" or "law and grace. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.