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Profile: Lauren Ash

THE CORE way I live out my faith is by trying to love others in every situation, following Christ’s example, and thus trying to live out the Kingdom.

I have a particular passion for social justice issues and a vision for a just and compassionate world in which all people have the opportunity to achieve their God-given potential.

My faith and consequent vision for the world has played a crucial part in what I have chosen to study because I recognise these areas as the foundation of our society and thus, the injustices that exist.

I think the Uniting Church doesn’t have many young people for reasons which are mostly an issue for all churches.

Not many young people have a faith.  Those who do, don’t prioritise actually attending church. Those who do choose to go to bigger churches that have plenty of young people and more youth friendly services and programs.

Those who do attend [Uniting Churches] sometimes do not stay around for long because, beyond high school, there is often a lack of programs for young people, and many may move away from the area for university or work.

Also, for the Uniting Church particularly, three things I think may be putting off young people are music, community engagement and learning styles. Young people love music and the Uniting Church often lacks contemporary music and encouragement for young people to express their creativity.

Young people are passionate and want to live out their faith, especially through engagement with the wider community and social justice issues, but they often have to do so through other groups, and thus may prioritise these ‘active’ groups over church groups.

The reality is the church as we see it – everyone sitting in pews watching the people up the front and listening for an hour or two – is simply not effective worship or teaching for younger generations that are used to being connected to numerous different mediums and constantly being in conversation with others.

For me, church is more the bible study come Christian book club I attend on a Friday afternoon or the Maccas trip (though at odds with my ‘trying to live ethically’ lifestyle) after the evening service when I can catch up with the younger kids and debrief thoughts from the service.

This may be because, especially for young people studying, outside of university or school, we seek informal learning that we can engage with together with our friends; we seek to learn and grow in fellowship.