Ministry and Mission – Young people have their say at Church of Ireland Youth Forum

Young people from across the island converged for the third annual Church of Ireland Youth Forum on Saturday (January 25). Young people and their leaders from almost every diocese in the Church gathered in the City North Hotel, Gormanstown, to make their voices heard on this year’s theme of ‘Ministry and Mission’.

Organised by the Church of Ireland Youth Department, the forum was facilitated by Nic and Sally Sheppard of Church Army. Each year participants are encouraged to share their views on the Church and what they would like to see. The forum also aims to enable young people to make connections across the Church.

Some of the participants in the Church of Ireland Youth Forum.

The morning opened with words from Bishop Pat Storey, chairperson of CIYD. She challenged young people to look at their social media personas. She asked if anyone would know of their Christian lives by looking at their social media image.

Drawing on Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live but Christ lives in me”, she said that this verse could seem like loss but it was actually huge gain.

Bishop Storey observed that people control what they put on social media and put their best side up there. “On social media we tend not to put up our real selves. It is a totally false image of our lives. So it puts out an image that is not the real us,” she said.

She wondered how Galatians 2:20 would go as a social media post. She suggested that it would be a great post because it gives us a new identity – we are now in Christ; it also gives us a new purpose – we live by faith; we have a new friend – we are never alone because Christ lives in us.

She asked youth forum participants if, unlike on social media, their inside matched their outside. “Integrity is when your inside matches your outside. If this verse is true for you, would anyone notice? Is it showing? Is it on your social media?” she asked.

During the day videos from young people from around Ireland were shown. They featured young people’s reflections on the Church including the instruction, ‘stop being old’. A small selection of the views expressed this year were:

The Church is associated with buildings rather than people. The welcome the Church gives is important.
Love your neighbour as yourself – everything should revolve around this. Compassion to the unaccepted is important.
We should become more like Jesus and go out in to the community more.
Jesus included all levels of society; it is important that everyone is involved. Jesus was a leader, teacher and good friend and we should strive for that. Jesus’s and the Church’s ministry is counter–cultural. Jesus’s ministry was ‘hands on’.

Like Jesus, the Church is trying to be more forgiving. Jesus made his message relatable.
We have to listen to God. Spread to word of God through the Gospel. Get to know Christ better.

CIYD Youth Ministry Development Officer Steve Grasham with CIYD Chairperson Bishop Pat Storey at the Church of Ireland Youth Forum.

Report and photography by Lynn Glanville, Dublin & Glendalough Communications Officer