National Children and Youth Adviser
Church of England
In each edition of GenOn Connect, we ask someone the same two questions about intergenerational ministry: “What keeps you up at night?” and “What gets you up in the morning?”
What keeps you up at night?
I keep wondering, “When will churches get it?” Throughout my many years of ministry, children and young people have been seen as "the future of the church," but the church of today seems unwilling to embrace them or recognise the gifts they bring. And it closes its ears to the prophetic challenges they present. God welcomes each one of us with our foibles and gifts and frailties and strengths, but we are unwilling to welcome the jiggles and questions and energy and challenge that children and young people present. Until we do this, we are a church that is only partly listening to what God requires of us.
What gets you up in the morning?
Apart from a strong cup of tea, a conviction that that we cannot allow ourselves to be yet another generation that thinks it doesn’t matter whether we include children and young people as full members of the body of Christ. Too easily we allow ourselves to buy into the "me and my needs/desires" generation in church. But God calls us to turn our culture upside down, and when we recognise the place and potential of children and young people among us, we do exactly that. When Jesus said "Let the little children come to me," it wasn’t a fluffy sentiment; it was a command: Let them come, in all that they bring as children -- the noise, the movement, the questions, the straight speaking. And we need to help the church recognise and act on that.
Mary Hawes is the National Children and Youth Adviser for the Church of England. She has previously been a teacher, an editor with Scripture Union, a Cathedral Education Officer, and a Diocesan Children’s Adviser. In her “spare” time, she serves as an assistant priest in a South London Anglican Church, chairs the governing body of her local primary school, loosely follows Watford Football (soccer) Club, enjoys exploring craft gin, and watches far too much low-brow television.
Other GenOn Connect January - February 2020 articles