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Support your youth: giving them money is good, showing you care is better.

It's no secret that churches are getting older. Churches all over our country have seen a drop in attendance of younger families and youth. Calvin, Kitchener, (my church) is no different. For years we have had a stable, but ever-growing-older congregation. Although Calvin operates the Children's Arts Program (a children's and youth music theatre summer camp), a breakfast program for the school across the street and a youth group; none of these programs have really kept youth and young families coming back to the church. For me, there was something missing that I could not quite put my finger on, and although they were trying many things, I didn't feel as connected with the church as I could be.

That all changed when I helped with a youth-led service, where I announced that a PYPS weekend was coming up and that if anyone was interested they should come and talk to me. I didn't really expect any newcomers to take interest, but I thought I would give it a try. Sure enough, no one asked me about the retreat and I kind of left it at that.

The next Sunday was something entirely different. After church, during our coffee hour, an older gentleman came up to me and said, "Brenden, tell me about PYPS." I joked that he was a little old to be going to the retreat. He probed further and asked how the response to my announcement had gone over with the youth and if anyone new was coming, to which the answers were no. It would just be my family and my girlfriend going. He wasn't satisfied with the answer I gave him.

He asked why others were not going. I said, "Well, money and the uncertainty of a new event." He excused himself to go talk to his wife and another member of the church. A little later, he called me over to them and told me that the church was willing to cover the cost of any youth who would be willing to come and that the church would pay for a van (providing transportation), which a church member would drive for safety. I had to take a step back, because I was not expecting that at all! That afternoon, I called around to all our youth in the church and had many answer "yes" and even more answer with "maybe." When I talked to many of the youth, they were more than surprised with the offer of full payment and transportation provided by my church. Still more people offered to help drive and baby-sit younger kids that some of the youth were responsible for. I was not amazed by the amount of money that was being donated to us; I was amazed by the amount of support that was given to us from my church. Churches always try to support their youth, but often we don't see it.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

I challenge churches to take a stand and make sure that you are supporting your youth. It doesn't always take a donation of money but it can be something as easy as asking us how we are doing in school or coming to one of our events. Some churches have devoted themselves to their youth by appointing an elder just for youth and young families. If that doesn't show support I don't know what does. This older gentleman has done that for our church, he has said I want to support youth and I know my church wants to so let's get the ball rolling. There are people all over the country like this man, who care about the youth of their church. All they need to do is stand up for the youth and show that the church supports them in what ever they do. Anyone interested in standing up?

Brenden Sherratt is a member of Calvin, Kitchener, Ont. He is in his last month as the president of the CNOB PYPS.
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Title Annotation:YOUTH FEATURE
Author:Sherratt, Brenden
Publication:Presbyterian Record
Date:Sep 1, 2007
Words:659
Previous Article:Are you telling me something? It's not the message that needs changing, it's the way we approach it.
Next Article:Anatomy of a PYPS weekend: the most awesomest thing ever!
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