The Way We Go
IN the last issue of "The Presbyterian" a question from youth was put to the Church. "Quo Vadimus?" "Where are we going?"
It was a pertinent question. It struck at the heart of the problem of youth and the Church.
If our Church be likened to a ship, we see the agents anxious to have her equipped with all the latest apparatus to make a voyage in her as attractive as possible. They make provision for her passengers to be entertained with music, pictures, games, social activities, intellectual distractions, so that young people will crowd the gangways, and the decks will echo with their happy laughter. Unfortunately for the agents there are always a few, and they are, generally, of the sort that the captain would especially choose for his crew, who are not so much interested in the pleasures of a cruise as they are in the course the ship is to take and the port to which she is bound. Too often the agents are not quite clear about that. They know she is a good ship, she has outridden the storms of centuries. So, "Come on board and have a good time," they cry. A peculiar thing about it all is that the agents seem to forget that they are sent out after a crew, not passengers at all; and that they are to sign on that crew for a definite voyage with certain known risks and objectives. The chief duty of the agents, indeed, is to introduce those they enrol to the captain of the ship himself.
If all this seems wearisome iteration of matters with which we are well acquainted and is not helping you to solve the problem of bringing youth into the Church, still it must be said again and again. Youth is lost to Christ so often, not because Sunday School is unattractive or even uninteresting, but because its message has not linked life definitely and vividly with Christ.
A message to the Church on Youth is appearing this month because March has been associated with youth for a long time in our Church year. In former times it was the occasion of the annual appeal for the funds of the Welfare of Youth Department. Now that those ends are satisfied by the generous response of the people to the quarterly appeal for the United Enterprises of the Church, the place once given to figures can be used to present the needs of youth in terms of aims and guidance. Hence our plea to you this month.
First it is for a presentation to youth, by those responsible for their guidance, of a Gospel that is a Gospel to them: the presentation of the Christ who can alter life for them.
If that demands one thing it does demand teachers who have knowledge themselves of the power of Christ to save. If it demands a second, it demands that the teacher should know every child committed to his care individually and so well that he can bring his message home to each one.
There is the chief aim of the Youth Council's Plan for 1948—consecrated leadership: teachers and leaders who have newness of life in Christ.
Let the word of the prophet be fulfilled in our day:—
WE WOULD SEE JESUS.
"Though the Lord give you the bread of
adversity and the water of affliction, Yet shall not thy teachers be removed
into a corner any more, But thine eyes shall see thy teachers: And thine ears shall hear a word behind
thee saying, This is the way, walk ye
It is not easy for one who is not experienced to set a course or to describe the Way so clearly that it can be easily followed. Guides have to be trained, and for this route different guides work over different parts of the way. Little ones play as they begin to move into the way. They are taught to see the Builder of the Road in the flowers and birds by the roadside. Later, they learn that God is in all living, especially in the companions by the way. Then God must
be in all working, buying and selling, ploughing and building, serving and ruling, toiling and playing. Finally, God must be in the heart.
Hence our second aim for 1948— an effective teacher training course and the Youth Council does plead with all who teach to take advantage of every help that is offered to make for more efficient teaching. This United Teacher and Leader Training Course starts in May. Watch out for it.
There is another and really important help our young people need to
enter the Way. This is the witness of consistent Christian living within the Church. Youth is distressed and disturbed when the Church appears to be tied up with vested interests which do not help the weak and the suffering. When the Church is silent about housing, the impossibilities of normal living for thousands of young families to-day, the blackmarketing that even the most respectable accept with a cynical smile, the sacrifice of Aboriginal life for the sake of defence, why should young people look to her with enthusiasm and hope?
So, finally, we ask that those that lead should have the will and the courage to speak openly about the Will of God in our times and to set their faces against every appearance of evil.