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Source: Mohsen Kamalzadeh (http://imaginion.wordpress.com/)

My time in Edinburgh during the first week of February was very fruitful. I stayed with a lovely homestay family in Edinburgh, and I was based at a local independent evangelical church, as part of our Missions Week at Cornhill. One of the benefits of being out of work is the ability to commit to Missions Week for a full week (otherwise it would defeat the purpose of such outreach). I was strangely reluctant to see through a full week, purely because I didn’t know what to expect. And yet, I wanted to learn with an open heart. Looking back, it has been the highlight of my year so far!

I honestly wish more churches from mainstream denominations can bother themselves with sincerity and enthusiasm to set aside time, resources and if need be – money and prayer support to open their doors to students from theological seminaries, and those generally exploring a call to pastoral / vocational ministry.

It’s rather ironic that churches tend to overlook in nurturing the next generation of tomorrow. It’s no wonder that folk including myself in the 20’s and 30’s age gap tend to slowly leave behind the Church. And yet, we are often the generation that are enticed to stay to make a local church look better, but we are never really nurtured in any biblical discipline (compared with children’s ministry, marriage ministry, evangelism, local and overseas mission, and ministries that cater for the elderly).

Perhaps that explains why city churches are better at ministering to young adults, as they strive to fish for young people. However, even though city churches strive to unite like-minded Christian believers, it may also be a place to cash on young people starting out in their careers. One only needs to tune into a recent sermon to find out. Sometimes, the doctrinal and theological priorities surface on the pages of a church website and marketing outreach.

Going back to the lack of spiritual care towards the next generation of young adults. Perhaps it’s the pride of senior and associate pastors, who fear a sense of insecurity when a young fresh-faced individual knocks on the door with spirited-energy, formal theological education and a passion to grow and learn. I have experienced a similar situation in the secular workplace.

Churches in general strive to attract and source the younger generation to help “stabilise” a church with the use of ICT, social media and to lure young ones to serve at a local church (anything that typically involves modern technology and music). It makes you wonder the priorities of a local church, and what real vision is actually made to proclaim the Good News of the LORD Jesus Christ to the next generation, and it’s surrounding community. Perhaps that is why our generation will continue to struggle to be illiterate in the Holy Scriptures. We too need a Gospel-centred ministry, where we can grow in Christian fellowship to study God’s Word.

Anyhow, who am I to make such deduction?

Reflecting back on my time in Edinburgh. It was good to learn from a dynamic group of Christians who work among local high schools through the Scripture Union. Even more cool, it was good to sit in one of the sessions and mix with the smart cookies of tomorrow! These teenagers come as they are, often with fantastic questions about God, science and faith. And it is great that they can come to a safe place to ask such questions, without feeling judged or bullied. This is one area in todays ever-changing society, which the Church needs to pour out in a great labour of God’s love and sensitivity.

Teenagers need a sound theological doctrine to follow through and live out, as it will help them to be rooted in the foundations of God’s Living Word, especially as they enter college and university as a young adult, often being exposed to worldly views and damaging friendships. Teenagers and young adults are very vulnerable, because psychologically – they are evolving and growing in their thoughts, intellectual minds and in shape and size.

I also experienced youth work in the housing schemes (not quite 20schemes, but perhaps very similar in practice… and just for the record, I have reached out to 20schemes enquiring to serve, but with no reply back).

I sat with the young lads during our time of bible study. I was humbled by the theological thought by one kid in particular. He was the most disruptive out of the whole clan of teenagers who attend this church ministry in the middle of a housing scheme, in one of the roughest parts of Edinburgh. And yet, these kids (all of these kids) just needed God’s love, and you can tell they weren’t really getting love from their own family due to various reasons (family break-up, divorce, addictions, single-parenting, unemployment, etc)… nor were the kids getting the attention needed from school. But the local churches here in Edinburgh share in their resources and their love for the LORD to bring God’s love and God’s Word to these kids.

It was incredibly awe-inspiring, and I can easily pin it as one of my favourite moments, despite the roughness of the ministry. Unfortunately, due to the sheer roughness in ministering to these teenagers, not many people from the local church (or the Church as a whole) can commit to the anti-social behaviour. But if you step inside their shoes for a moment, you will understand that all they need is God’s steadfast love.

Another ministry that I was inspired from is the Basics Bank ministry, where a network of evangelical churches team up with a local City Mission, whose mission is to seek out the lost and minister to them. Dozens of churches help to donate food and toiletries, and folk from deprived backgrounds and even those affected by the economic downturn are served with the basics to survive another week of everyday things we take for granted… tinned food, toilet paper, ready-made meals, etc.

There are a few other ministries that I experienced first-hand that I may choose to share at another time.

Disclaimer: I have chosen to keep my reflection anonymous, as I respect the privacy of ministries and the impact it can have for obvious reasons, but I wanted to share God at work among churches based in Scotland’s capital.

~Richard