The PULSE team has been working with congregations who want to rethink their model for ministry with emerging generations, particularly through the process of Fuller Youth Institutes Growing Young.
While this opportunity for congregations to dream together has been proven to be successful in America and with the communities who have engaged in this process, the way forward with Growing Young in our context here in Australia also needs to be accessible for those who are not part of the dominant culture.
What do I mean by this?
The Uniting Church in Australia is a multicultural church, made up of not just Anglo congregations, but a variety of mono-ethnic congregations as well as multicultural, intercultural, cross-cultural congregations.
Korean, Fijian, Tongan, Zimbabwean, Chinese, Indonesian, Filipino, Samoan, Vietnamese, Tamil, Middle Eastern, Niuean, these are some of the many cultures withing the Uniting Church.
With the multitude of diversity in the church, and in Australia in general, there are people from these cultures who do not fluently speak the dominant language, English. There are people who find it difficult to read or write in the dominant language. There are people who find it difficult to understand and process thoughts, concepts, ideas in the dominant language. There are people who cannot express themselves fully in the dominant language, as they could in their first language.
So how do we as a church make sure that such conversations around growing young, research and engagement done in the dominant language, be accessible to everyone?
As Fuller Youth Institute conducted their research for Growing Young, they put in the work to make it accessible for communities in their context. They worked with leaders from Korean and Spanish communities and provided translations of Growing Young in their respective languages.
Here in Australia, it is important that we provide the same support. We need to work with leaders from each respective community that look to engage with growing young and help provide both spoken and written translations of the growing young process.
For example, for those who may find it difficult to read English, it would be beneficial to have community book clubs, where a leader can read a chapter each session to the group, followed by open discussions in each respective language. This allows a space for deep conversations as everyone will be able to participate in the language that they are comfortable in.
This work has yet to be done here, but it can and should be done. Together. This way we continue to grow together as a community of Christ, being intentionally inclusive and loving to all of God’s people.
Reach out to the PULSE team if you’d like to learn more about Growing Young and to make it accessible and inclusive for your congregation.
Ofa Foiakau is the Youth/High School Ministry Lead and Field Officer (Central/West) within the PULSE team.