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Give young people space in the church comment

Church participation in the Netherlands is declining. But young people are inspired, for example, by Pentecost.

Just before the start of the Pentecost holiday, the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) published figures on faith in the Netherlands. This indicates that secularization is continuing; 42% of Dutch people say they are part of a religious community. These are cold figures, with CBS asserting that people over the age of 75 are the ones who belong to a religious community.

This shrinkage and aging is already a reality; Especially in many traditional churches. But anyone who looked around at the various religious holidays of Pentecost this weekend saw that there was also another truth. At Pentecost 316 in Wijnjewoude and Pentecost in Feankleaster, young families also tested the faith. In Bidinghuizen, more than 60,000 people gathered for the Oboecking Pentecost Conference. There were tens of thousands of young people. This large participation encouraged outgoing revival director Robin Flach: he predicted that a coming generation would give the church a different face and a different voice.

Birth of the Church

The coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost is considered the birth of the Church. At that time, he was accompanied by flames and tongues of fire, as stated in the Book of Acts of the Apostles. Christianity is growing rapidly throughout the world, with plenty of room for surprise and enthusiasm in the first hour. According to religious anthropology professor Miranda Claver, churches in Europe that focus on perception and experience have great appeal to large groups of people. Music is important. This also explains the success of Opwekking, for example.

It would be great if Flach was right, and young people began to shape the face and voice of churches. Because a church that only includes people over the age of 75 will not last long; There are fewer and fewer churchgoers, fewer and fewer volunteers – they are becoming vulnerable. Ellen Bersman, pastor of the Protestant community in Coolom from 2012 until the beginning of this year, is now looking for solutions to the consequences of the shrinking church as a class servant of Protestant congregations in Groningen and Drenthe. It focuses on cooperation between municipalities. There are similar movements within the Protestant class in Fryslan. By working together, individual churches in villages and neighborhoods can continue to exist longer, but this will not prevent the aging of the pews. These are basically organizational problems that are solved in this way.

Traditional churches that are now looking out for each other and clinging to each other for the sake of self-preservation should, as part of this process, also look at how to impact more people. This can be done by involving young people from the region – even if they speak a different language and have different desires. Inspired by the spirit of Pentecost, perhaps a space will be created where something beautiful can flourish.

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