Young people need the church and the church needs young people. Adolescence is a time of physical, psychological, social, and financial transition. This also applies to the spiritual dimension of the adolescent’s life. Because of developments and circumstances in society, the period we call ‘youth’ is expanding and becoming more important.
As they undergo a period of change, young people become agents of change themselves. They are dynamic, creative, innovative and capable of great things. From a spiritual point of view, many of the Christian revivals and reformations are rooted in the mobilization of young people. It is no coincidence that Jesus chose the young to be his disciples.
Given how important they are for the church, it is disturbing that we often lose more than half of our young people. Sadly, this statistic is on the rise in Seventh-day Adventist churches all around the world. Generally, their reasons for leaving the church are relational, not doctrinal. Churches where young people feel they belong, and where they can actively participate in shaping church life, vision, and mission, are generally passionate communities. Churches that include young people are also much more likely to reach contemporary society with the everlasting gospel of Jesus Christ (Revelation 14:6-12).
Church of Refuge
The Old Testament cities of refuge serve as a metaphor for the Church of Refuge framework (Deuteronomy 19:1-13, Numbers 35:6-15). Churches of Refuge follow the traditions and ideas of these biblical cities of refuge and apply them especially to being a safe place for young people. A Church of Refuge is a faith community that is purposeful in providing a safe place and sanctuary for everyone. Churches of Refuge are intentional about young people, ensuring that they feel protected, that they are valued and that they can get involved. The COR framework takes Jesus’ commission to his followers to ‘go and make disciples’ seriously (Matthew 28:16-20). It is designed to promote and foster true discipleship. CORe churches are committed to developing safe but challenging environments and inclusive faith communities for the mission, where all members are empowered to experience and strengthen their faith. The COR framework, in the North American Division, is part of a worldwide Adventist network: A cooperation with the Church of Refuge programs of the Trans-European & Inter-European Divisions. In close cooperation with these partners, COR develops new ideas, strategies, and resources to support the many congregations across North America.
The Family of God
We believe in a relational God: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. God is a completely united being, and the Bible uses familial terminology to describe God. At creation, God declared that a person should not be alone. Together humans are responsible for each other.
The church is the community of God’s children; we are the disciples of Christ. As God’s family the church is a loving, caring, and nurturing community that empowers and supports its members to connect with each other and live up to their full potential in Christ. The church fosters true discipleship among its members.