It is often said that youth are the Church of Tomorrow but does history bear this out? Honest persons who are acquainted with the history of God's people would resoundingly note that young people have always been active during the most critical pivot points, making the most significant impact on our society.
In no particular order, let us consider a few: When Jesus gave His life on the cross to save His people from our sins, He was 33 1/2 years of age. When Josiah inquired of the Lord regarding the Book of the Law that had been discovered as he commissioned the repair of the breaches in the house of the Lord, he was 26 years of age. The young servant girl whose name we still do not know was a missionary that was instrumental in the perfect healing of Naaman as he suffered through a scourge of leprosy (2 Kings 5). When David was filled with holy anger and honoured God's name as the Philistine giant blasphemed while the army of Israel stood idly by, he was around 17 years of age. When the angel visited Mary to convey God's plan for her to carry the Saviour in her womb and change the world forever, she was a teenager. I could go on, but you get the point. Whether they were world changers in the Old Testament, disciples in the New, reformers in the Early Adventist Era, or Post-COVID Era leaders, there is no doubt that young people are the Now Church and not merely the future. We will talk about this at a later date, Lord willing. If we recognise this and move accordingly, we all will be better off.
On Friday, May 1, 2020, the Central Jamaica Conference of Seventh-day Adventists (CJC) hosted an online vespers service on the Zoom platform and in its CJC Web Church Community on Facebook. What was once novel in the Internet space (worship services), has now become necessary.
What made this vespers service special was the focus. CJC President, Pastor Levi Johnson has a heart for young people. And thus, he enlisted the assistance of Pastor Kevan Barnaby, Youth Ministries Director, to invite as many young people as possible to worship and share their vision of the Post-COVID Church. In the virtual space were also special guests, Elder Alton Scott, Dr Hugh W. Bailey, Minister Claude Edwards and Pastor Kevan Barnaby, who ministered to the online viewers.
The unique feature, here, was when Pastor Johnson welcomed the youth to answer feedback questions regarding the state of the Church, now and for the future. One such compound question was, "How do you maintain your walk with the Lord? What do you find yourself doing in maintaining your walk with the Lord during this crisis"? Sherlock C. said that he thought it was a good idea to share encouraging texts of Scripture and songs via social media platforms since we are not able to meet in person. And it's true; social distancing must not make us spiritually anti-social. God gives strength to those who are willing to help others.
Paula H. said that since it is a trying time for everyone, and that she is "very young", she uses online platforms, including CJC's, to find worship services, along with virtual interaction with one of her Church Elders on Bible issues. "We know that maintaining our connection with God is not automatic. We have to make the time", Pastor Johnson said as he leaned forward and listened intently to her response.
Marvin B. from Portland parish said that he remains anchored by making things practical through farming, sharing his experiences with others and studying the Word.
Feedback question number two was, "What kind of Church do you want to see after this crisis is over"? Hilda W. said she wanted to "see good old time Bible class. After crusades, someone to teach the new believers the fear of God and what it is to be a Seventh-day Adventist".
Nichola M. B. said, "I want [to] see [the] Church praying more and study the Bible more".
Chantell Stewart, President for CJC's Manchester AY Federation, said that she would like to see those who have been visiting our online platforms during the COVID-19 crisis "actually being reached out to so that when we go back to our physical churches they can be reached".
As you would imagine, with this kind of engagement, Friday night's vespers service was a blessing. Moreover, it was a learning experience for all of us. When the Holy Spirit is at work, and young people are mobilised, neither the Church nor the world can remain the same. We can say with confidence that faithful young people are indeed here to stay. They are the Church of today, and they will continue to blaze a trail in the Post COVID Era. For this, we give God thanks.