Martin Stott gave two fantastic introductions in the service, one to the Drama and one for the Survey. Which I feel should be shared.
I’ll start with the quote from the introduction to the Drama, before moving into the survey results.
“I’m very conscious working with our young people that they have a choice whether to come to our church or not, perhaps more than previous generations did, that’s quite a challenge for leaders. For me it means I have to try and make the sessions interesting, engaging, actually fun. I think I have the fun more than they do most of the time, but that’s what I try to do and I don’t always succeed. But actually I’ve been learning over recent weeks that its more than that. What makes these young people want to come to church is because they feel they belong here, and belonging is quite complex.
They ask themselves,
whether they’re welcome?
Whether they are like other youngsters?
Whether they are treated with respect by their peers?
And the church?
and by the leaders?
They are asking do I believe the same things as everyone else?
And some might be feeling if I don’t believe the same things as everyone else, should I actually be here?
And it’s out of an attempt to answer that last question that this service sprang.
In our first session of preparation a couple of months ago we had a fantastic discussion out of which arose some really challenging and admittedly unusual questions. Some of those were included in the drama, performed in the service.
They asked can people of other faiths go to heaven?
What happens if someone on a remote island dies having never heard of God, Would they go to heaven?
What do Christians actually believe?
And what do they believe themselves?
And as we discussed this, the range of belief’s that emerged within the group…..We were quite diverse.
Should we be worried about that? I thought. All these questions, and all these different conclusions, at first I panicked, I thought it’s probably my role to teach orthodoxy, but what is orthodoxy? So we’ve been on a journey together. We’ve learnt over the past few weeks that there isn’t a right answer, God is as we have heard earlier, a Mystery, a deliberate mystery. On the other hand we’ve learnt that God created us to be inquisitive and seek the truth and that that quest never stops. I’m learning alongside the youngsters, and from the questionnaires many of you filled in over the last few weeks. We’ve learnt that your still learning too. Still looking for answers.
We’ve learnt that doubt isn’t something to be feared. It challenges us to look harder. Perhaps its people who claim to know all the answers and leave no room for discussion or alternative views that we should actually be wary of, not the doubters.
Our drama was written before we heard about the fundamentalist Christian group in America who declared the world was about to end, God will reek his revenge on sinners and destroy earth… It was supposed to happen a couple of weeks ago (approx 21 May 2011),at six o’clock preciously . We’ve learnt that we belong because non of us is right or wrong, but all of us share an interest in exploring the mystery of God & Creation, trying to find out what we are supposed to be, what God wants us to be, so forget answers for a minute, it all starts with questions.”
and the Survey results, where we did ask the questions.
“I talked earlier about belonging and part of belonging is feeling that you are cared for, that you are respected, and so I need to say thank you. This community here does respect it’s young people. In recent weeks , we’ve just taken possession in the seniors room of a fantastic flat television monitor that we can use, you can see we are using a lot of multimedia & PowerPoint and we are doing that with the seniors and that’s going to enable us to teach more creativity, and I’m grateful for that, thank you. I also want to say thank you for the responses to the survey.
The Survey responses were fantastic, so many of you really, really lots of responses, and many of you really clearly took a lot of care over the answers. You were also very honest, as I asked you to be, and I’m grateful for that and you shared some powerful experiences of how faith has influenced your lives, and I’m grateful for that too. The numbers I’m going to show you only tell a bit of the story. Lots of people qualified their answers and interpreted the questions in different ways,
we may have to think how to share these answers with you in more detail later to do justice to this because it really was quite powerful to read this material.”