Monday, July 2, 2012

Thinking aloud for the youth in Bangalore

It is difficult to suggest new things for the Jacobite church youth in Bangalore as there are varying needs. But it helps to start a thinking process aimed at the growth of the youth activities and its positive impact on society. In this light we can look at the following.

1. Programmes for the youth- understanding society and the people we live with, understanding other denominations and religions, having resource persons from different fields talking to the youth. Apart from these, church oriented classes on history, theology and liturgy can also be planned depending on the availability of resource persons.
2. Making sub groups- it will be beneficial to make sub groups within the youth group so that people staying in the same place can meet often. These groupings should not be based on gender but on geographical location.
3. Unofficial gatherings- the youth can gather together in common places and have short talks or discussions. This does not have to be in church because the church may be far for many. These unofficial gatherings could be getting together for tea/coffee, dinner and the like. Being in a youth group should not put pressure on members but should rather be an opportunity to mingle freely and open up when the need arises.
4. Data base for the youth- there should be a data base for the youth whereby names, addresses and other details can be collected. This should be kept by the office bearers and should not be misused in any manner.
5. Project identification- the youth should visualize a project which they can raise funds for and manage by themselves. For instance, it could be a hostel for women and men youth members who come from Kerala and would need accommodation. Or it could be providing paying guest facilities for the youth. This should be co-ordinated by the youth themselves. For this purpose any youth from Kerala or other places should be able to contact the youth here and ask for any help. This could be help regarding a job, a place to stay, marriage, and the like. The project thus can be big or small depending on how the youth would like to do it.
6. Website or blog- the youth group should have a web site or blog which is comprehensive and updated regularly. Programmes should be conducted at least once a month and this should be accounted for in the calendar. It should be explored whether online chatting facilities are also possible for youth members and how far social networking sites can be made use of.
7. Worship for the youth- the need for this can be discussed. The youth can either meet in different places and pray, or come together in church, or do both. The need for English qurbana will vary according to different churches and therefore individual churches should take those decisions.
8. Committees for regions- the youth committee of a particular church can also be the committee of the region for the diocese. They will then report in the diocesan level youth meeting on the work they are doing in their region.
9. More roles during qurbana- the women and men of the youth should be encouraged to take a more active role during qurbana and other services in church. This includes choir, bible readings, special songs, and skits. As far as possible, women should also be given roles just as men.
10. Helping Sunday school- the youth should also actively involve themselves in Sunday school as the younger crowd will be able to identify better with the youth. This will also give an opportunity to mingle with the younger crowd in church.
11. The youth group should be baby friendly- many youth members especially women are not able to attend meetings because they are taking care of their little ones. Some scheme should be devised wherein we make such families comfortable in attending such meetings.
12. Understanding each other- there may be cultural and other differences within the youth group and this should be dealt with by encouraging people to people contact and interaction. This will go a long way in ironing out differences and bringing about a deeper understanding of one another.
13. Debates and interaction- debates should be arranged on topics of interest. For instance the Jan Lokpal bill has evinced a lot of interest in people. Wouldn’t it be good if we were able to discuss it among the youth and try to understand the issue more deeply?
14. Overnight camps- as part of the mingling process it would help to have small youth camps where over night stays are also encouraged. These have been conducted in the past but we could get more experimental.

(This was presented for a church diocesan youth gathering in Bangalore in July 2011.)