Young people and the elderly in one service? No.

Will the Protestant congregations in Jistrum and surrounding villages survive in the coming years? I believe so. Will that happen with young and old in one service? I do not think so. This blog is the follow-up to my previous one from last March 3. On September 1, 2011 I started 6 hours of youth work per week at the PKN in Jistrum. I mainly hung out with teenagers aged 12-17. This was within teen services, catechism and leisure activities. It went well, teenagers got excited. Parents too! Hope arose again within the municipality that had been slowly but steadily shrinking for years. I soon became aware of the fact that as these teens got older, they would no longer attend teen activities. Unfortunately, I also noticed that they did not want to attend the traditional services on Sundays. By presenting this dilemma to the church council, an open discussion arose in which the possibility of supplementing the Sunday worship service once a month with an innovative youth service was put on the table. We thought about the form and started 2 years of searching. After 2 years, the result was that young people gradually visited the special youth services. Conclusion: This is not the way to the future. The experiment was ended. When the youth services stopped, it was simultaneously decided that a new initiative had to be set up. This resulted in ‘Ferbining’. A completely new meeting that I discussed quite extensively in the previous blog. There are already 100 to 200 similar initiatives in the Netherlands, including the so-called Kliederkerk. After a year and a half and approximately 15 monthly meetings later, we notice that we are on the right track. Children and parents find it wonderful to experience faith together as a family in an atmosphere of conviviality, fun and mutual relationships. Within this wonderful development we also experience a number of challenges. A first challenge within this process is that the elderly do not like and are sad that these families do not come to church services on the Sundays in question. We have a traditional service in Jistrum every Sunday and a Ferbining once a month on the same Sunday morning. Asecond challenge is that we must work on deepening faith and discipleship. If we want to maintain and expand this form of church in the long term, more depth, more ‘practical following of Jesus’ will have to take place somehow. The current situation is that a short interactive sermon is preached during Ferbining. There is no more content or depth. This is too little for broader faith building in the longer term. Athird challenge is the carrying capacity for the coming years. I have learned that the capacity of the working group determines the quality and growth potential of your activity. At the moment the carrying capacity is fine. The question, however, is whether it is possible to continue building a qualitative but also profound faith process with a relatively small group (approximately 10 families with children and approximately 20 others). I think that for this initiative to be a success, 20-30 families are needed to be financially strong enough. The surrounding villages face the same challenges. This gave rise to the idea of ​​working together with these villages and creating a stronger whole. Whether this is feasible and desirable will become apparent in the near future. But what about the unity of the flock? Don’t young and old belong together as a community? The question of how we should continue to experience church together with young and old is one that must be asked and answered. As young and old, we are given to each other and belong together. In my opinion, however, this does not mean that we should celebrate Sunday celebrations together with young and old. History shows that this does not work in 95 out of 100 places. The generation gap will have to be bridged in a different way. I think we should continue on the path we have taken and at the same time discover how we can continue to work together as one herd, with young and old. I believe that this can and will succeed and that the PKN has a hopeful future in the Netherlands!

About Gerlof Wiersma

Man van Margreet - Vader van drie kanjers - Jeugdwerker, spreker en gepassioneerd voor de PKN

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