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Young people want you, warts and all

Tom Kerr
ACCORDING TO Synod Young Adult ministry coordinator Tom Kerr, the key to evangelising young adults is by not evangelising.

Well, not in the traditional sense of the word.

Mr Kerr says forming a connection with young adults comes from being yourself and growing friendships, not pushing beliefs on someone.

Here is part of Tom’s story:

“I’m having this discussion about faith in God with four young adult blokes in my car. None of them go to church.
“I’m a 50 year old, but they don’t mind talking with me about God.

“When we park the car, we’re going to get out and start throwing each other around and attacking each other with knives, chains and broken bottles.

“It’s all good though. We do this every Wednesday night. I give them a lift to Ju Jitsu.

“The faith thing comes up every second night that we travel together.

“It started when one of the guys asked me what I do for a living.

“I told him I work for the church and discussions about everyone’s church experiences started flying around the car.

“Then it gets to God and what we believe. We’re all comfortable. It’s good.

“We share ideas and beliefs with each other – rather than sell ideas and lecture each other.

“There is no condemnation, self righteousness or judgement.

“We can disagree and that can be okay. We do it respectfully.

“Everybody is happy. And there’s actually a lot more we agree about when it comes to God than we disagree about.

“Once we got on to the topic of traits we respect in people and what we do not respect.

“It shifted to Christians who do not live up to the price tag.

“We all agreed that if someone has faith in Jesus, they need to show that in their actions.

“You’d think they were quoting the book of James to me.

“They intuitively know that’s the deal, these four young adult guys who don’t go to church, but are happy to talk about faith when it comes up naturally.”

The Gap Uniting Church member Erin Van Krimpen said building relationships and being yourself with integrity are the most important things when talking to young people about God.

“Young adults usually aren’t looking for a holier-than-thou person who will teach them all they need to know,” she said.

“What they’re really looking for is someone just like them for whom following Christ is working.

“Don’t be afraid to be yourself, warts and all.”

Ms Van Krimpen is in her early 20s and said simple exposure to Christianity through friends, teachers and people in the community was what made her interested in learning more about Christianity, not in-your-face Bible bashing.

“No sermon, no song, no book, no lecture, no meeting with a minister, no podcast will ever be as powerful a witness as the relationship you build with a person.”

Towong Early Adult (TEA Party) member Naomi Waldron said building relationships within church members is an important part of keeping young adults in church.

“TEA Party people don’t just see each other on Sundays. With each other and our non-Christian friends we play sport, go to parties, and support each other through hard times,” said Ms Waldron.

After more than twenty five years of working with young people, Mr Kerr has a pretty good idea about how to talk to them about faith.

“I believe the problem of evangelism and young adults lies more with us Christians than with people in the non-church community.

“If friends want to know who we are, faith is who we are and surely we will want to know what our mate’s beliefs and values are too.

“Shouldn’t it be a natural part of getting to know each other?” he said.

Photo : Tom Kerr