Growing Young is a phrase you are going to hear a lot in the months ahead! Kinross Parish Church is embracing Growing Young and all that it offers. In December 2019 we hosted an information evening attended by other interested congregations and with the backing of the Kirk Session, embarked on this new journey in the life of the congregation.

Here’s some background. If you haven’t read it in the press, church membership is decreasing and isn’t reaching the under 40s. If we want a church of tomorrow we need to act today.

The Fuller Youth Institute in the USA has been researching how to grow a thriving church that engages younger generations, with breath-taking success. They have brought their practical strategies here and are engaging with 20 Church of Scotland congregations across the country in a series of webinars and conferences. Here are the six Core Commitments:

1. Unlock keychain leadership: empower others, especially young people

2. Empathise with today’s young people: instead of judging or criticising, step into the shoes of this generation

3. Take Jesus’ message seriously: welcome young people into a Jesus-centred way of life

4. Fuel a warm community: aim for warm peer and intergenerational friendships

5. Prioritise young people (and families) everywhere: look for creative ways to tangibly support, resource and involve them in all facets of your congregation

6. Be the best neighbours: instead of condemning the world outside your walls, enable young people to neighbour well locally and globally

Kin-nections spoke with Ewan Cathcart who attended the first webinar. “A stand-out message for me was ‘leadership begins with listening’. We don’t know all the answers but by listening to our young people and giving them authority and responsibility we can build something that is relevant not only for them but across all generations of our church family.

“Another message was ‘this is a slow-cooker, not a microwave’. Growing Young will challenge all of us to perceive and do things differently. This takes time. We are blessed to have an energetic youth ministry – JamPact and Crossfire are two examples – but we must not be complacent. We need to have an ambitious vision.”

Young people need a thriving church. A thriving church needs young people. We all need to be Growing Young.