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Jesus Christ is “unique selling point” in church’s nurture of young people

Posted on: October 31, 2016 10:10 AM
Young people share their thoughts on the Anglicans Ablaze conference, held earlier this month in Cape Town, South Africa.
Photo Credit: Bellah Zulu / ACNS

[ACNS, by Gavin Drake] The importance of investing in young people for the future of the Church was one of the messages to emerge from the Anglicans Ablaze conference, held earlier this month in Cape Town, South Africa. The Anglican Communion News Service (ACNS) has now published two videos by African journalist Bellah Zulu which go behind the scenes of the biennial event. Organised by the Anglican Province of Southern Africa, Anglicans Ablaze is now attracting visitors from around the world.

“It’s blazing, you know. People are just dying to worship God; dying to grow in their faith, to be equipped to be disciples,” Bishop Martin Breytenbach, from the diocese of St Mark the Evangelist in South Africa, said.

“There is such a thirst, such a hunger, such an enthusiasm. We have seen it in the number of people who have travelled long distances to be here. Not only from South Africa but more widely from Africa and other parts of the world.”

He said that many young people “don’t feel very welcome, very at home in their home church” and that the organisers of Anglicans Ablaze place great importance on making young people welcome, including through the provision of subsidised tickets. “We do everything we possibly can to invite the youth,” he said. “They have such an important role to play in the life of the Church today and tomorrow.”

One of the guest speakers at this year’s event, Mike Pilavachi, the director of the UK-based Soul Survivor Christian youth movement, reiterated this message. “We need to invest as mothers and fathers to this generation so that they don’t just get information; but that they grow up, they develop, they become who they are meant to be. And God does that,” he said.

“Our unique selling point is not that we entertain young people better. It’s not that we provide better facilities. It's not that our smoke machines dish out more smoke or our lighting is better . . . or whatever it is. Our unique selling point is the Lord Jesus Christ. And it is about him, and it is about engaging with him.”