Every Sunday in hundreds of often traditional churches in the Netherlands, the so-called ‘Votum and greeting’ is pronounced at the start of the service. The vast majority of Christians have heard it spoken by a pastor or preacher. It is often a fixed formulation that consists of a number of encouraging and hopeful Bible texts.
- “Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth” (Psalm 124:8).
- “Who keeps faith forever” (Psalm 146:6).
- “And never forsake the work of his hands” (Psalm 138:8).
- “Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:3).
When these words are spoken, we indicate that we rely on God’s help. He is all powerful and faithful to His promises. He finishes what He starts. Always and everywhere. We are now working with Royal Mission youth workers in eleven1 (expected to be fifteen next season!) largely traditional churches in North Friesland. These are almost all churches in rural villages. Eight enthusiastic youth workers work with great passion in these churches every week. Even though it is not always easy, there are many hopeful moments, processes and miracles, through which we see that God does not let go of what His hand started. For example, read my previous blog on the Royal Mission website. God always knows new ways to land His life-changing message in the hearts of young people. This often requires new roads and new methods. Despite statistics showing church abandonment, I am very hopeful for a revival of the church. God finishes things! He wants to pour out His Spirit again on His church. Where we pray together for renewal and revival of the church, God moves. To reach the next generation, I would like to provide a few tools here. 1. First of all, we have to pick up young people from where they are. A Jew among the Jews and a Greek among the Greeks, Paul would call it. Connect with the experiences of young people. In my opinion, the same applies to young families. Relationships with each other form the basis for this. 2. The form and way of being church is the major quest in the Netherlands at the moment. As different generations within the church, we believe the same thing, but we often experience it differently. The traditional form of a church service was and is very good. However, because it no longer matches the experiences of young people, we will not be able to reach the next generation with this. I am not saying that we should abolish the traditional church service on Sundays. I think that this should remain the regular and familiar way of being at church for the elderly. However, we will have to find new forms for the new generation. This is now happening on a large scale. 3. As young and older generations we will have to learn to bless each other. Loving and accepting each other in a different way of experiencing faith. 4. For teenagers, young people and young families, ‘being real’ is crucial. Real stories that are about the reality of God’s love in everyday life. Sadness, pain and joy may be seen in a growing relationship with God. 5. Prayer is the key. Prayer is the most powerful, effective and necessary key that God has given us and that we must learn to use. There is Hope for the church of tomorrow! For God does not forsake the work of his hands.