Young People, Advocacy and the Future of The United Methodist Church
What percentage of General Conference 2020 delegates, for instance, volunteered at the last youth lock-in, chaperoned a young adult mission trip or led a middle school bible study?
This May, the future of the United Methodist Church rests in the hands of about a thousand delegates to GC 2020. Unfortunately most of those delegates don’t spend enough time interacting with young people in their churches and might not have youth and young adults in mind when deciding the fate of our church.
Despite this reality, youth and young adults have the capacity to advocate for their own vision of the future of our church. Here are just three roles through which young people might affect this important conversation that we have phrased in a way you can copy and paste and make an appeal to get these students involved.
The Influencer: Are you a young person with a lot of Instagram followers? When you start a livestream, do people show up to hear what you have to say? Maybe you can influence the General Conference 2020 conversation by pointing your audience in the direction of articles, events and groups that speak for and with young people and their interests. As your followers coalesce around the content you steer them toward, they become prepared to lobby for outcomes that keep young people centered in the life of the UMC.
The Field Reporter: Are you great at listening to people’s stories and sharing them with others to affect change for good in the world? Maybe what GC 2020 delegates need more than anything is to hear the stories of young people and the vision they have for the church. Maybe you are the one who can share with your Conference delegation stories of your friends hurt by the church or hopeful for the church. Maybe you will help delegates remember the visions and hopes for the church they had as young people. Maybe they can then bring those stories to bear on their decision making for the church today.
The Q&A Master: Are you great at asking tough questions at strategic moments? Have you stumped teachers and professors in class? Do you have a knack for lifting up issues that have yet to be addressed by the talking points of the day? Whether in person at delegation forums or via online discussion boards, youth and young adults can open up the conversation with tough questions compassionately delivered. As Q&A Masters young people can help the church face the unexamined components of any plan for the church.
Whether through these roles or some other creative methods, the church desperately needs youth and young adults to influence the proceedings of General Conference 2020. We encourage all young people’s organizations across The United Methodist Church to craft official statements and share them with delegations, bishops, agency leaders and more. We also encourage local church youth and young adult groups to engage with the leadership in their conferences around decisions for the future of their part of the UMC.
The next era of the church will include amazing young people. Now is the time for those young people to serve as central discerners of that future.