The Relevance of the Gospel to Young People For several years, I have had the honour of serving young people across the UK as part of both Christian and secular organisations. It has been an honour to have a front row seat to the transformation that takes place in the lives of individual young people and in communities of young people in some of the UK’s most impoverished, poverty-stricken contexts, as well as in some of the most financially affluent areas of the country. As I have journeyed alongside young people in these various contexts I have been humbled, so very blessed and at times challenged to the core. It is my privilege to offer a short reflection, to contribute to the ongoing conversation as to what it means to relevantly share the gospel with young people in this generation. It is important to note that this reflection is not a ‘how to guide’ and may even raise more questions than answers. My hope is that as we graciously sit with the questions, we might perhaps allow for some of the answers to unfold as we explore together. Young people are now (perhaps more than ever) exposed to misinformation concerning their true value and the importance of their hopes and their dreams. Young people are offered lies concerning their identities that are often promoted in the media, on young people’s mobile devices and amongst advertisers who seek to cultivate a concoction of fear and anxiety to serve their commercial and cooperate interests. Can we (the Church), instead dream with young people? Can we find within our collective dreams ways to be that further the intentions of Christ, further the bringing about of His Kingdom, and make a reality to young people, whoever they are, and wherever they might be, His redemptive love, hope, grace and compassion? Amongst the darkness Christ reveals His light. Must we be guiding young people towards it? Amongst hopelessness, Christ whispers His love. Must young people experience it? Amongst fear and anxiety that many young people acknowledge to be their everyday lived normal experience, Christ is humming a different song. Must young people feel it? Must we feel it with them? Must we be an alternative narrative to the narrative of dead ends, lost hopes and warped identities? Must young people know their value is found in the very essence of their being? Do we share in the image of the one who is responding and bringing about His purposes through each young person from within and outside of the fold of the Church’s walls? My answer to these questions is simple; yes. We ought therefore to point ourselves towards our young people as though we are pointing ourselves towards Christ. Greeting them in the midst of our brokenness, welcoming them as friends, equals and people in whom Christ is already very much at work. Let us not forget, the gospel is only good news if it is good news to ALL, young people well and truly are to be included. As we journey alongside young people, they might challenge and provoke. Their gift to us is often their unwavering ability to speak unfiltered truth. We must listen, and listen well. We must be in their spaces. Gently guiding, gently being the ways that they are to find meaning. We are to catch young people when they fall and fail, and when they inevitably mess up. These times are an opportunity for love and affirmation, not shame and exposure. We are to provide safe ‘God shaped spaces’ that are kind, hopeful, and graciously daring, that allow for young people to flourish, try, fail, express, create and explore. As we become open to seeing God’s face within the faces of our young people, we might just catch a glimpse of what heaven is saying and revealing to us collectively. What a treasure! Our church programs, structures, strategies are good. But, we must always be minded to offer a voice that is light and carries with it a future and a present hope. As we gather, we ought not to speak at our young people but ought instead to share with, partner with and perhaps most importantly, be where young people are. This means in their schools, clubs, streets, homes, devices and places of worship; encouraging, laughing with and even at times suffering alongside. How Christ reveals himself as relevant to our young people is a joy that we ourselves can gain as we humble ourselves, serve, teach, pray with and tend to the needs of our young people amidst the miraculous mundane. How Christ expresses His love in and through our young people is to be cherished and nurtured, not fashioned into a way that fits a structure that heaven refuses to conform to. As we hold our young people in prayer, may we value who they are. When young people are empowered, seen and valued, the gospel is not just merely a set of words that signpost towards a distant reality or a bible passage that is taught and learnt as purely a cerebral exercise, but is instead an ever-present deeper heavenly reality that is to be experienced in the here and now, that is to be tasted, felt, soaked in, and enjoyed. A reality that is both a participation in scripture and the partnering with the deeper present nearness that always meets us with love. Grace beckons and beautifully stains. It is within its nature to be free, free even from our programming and our best laid plans. It instead offers itself as a precious gift in unexpected unforeseen ways. It loudly whispers in the ears of each young person ‘you are loved just as you are, I refuse to meet with you any other way’. It is this love that births creativity and ever new means of journeying onwards. May we communicate to our young people how it is that we see Christ at work in their lives. Being with, laughing with, experiencing God’s goodness alongside each other. We are journeying towards a way that is full of truth, full of love and full of hope. May we be open to seeing our young people as Christ does. Being with young people as Christ is. Serving our young people as Christ does and recognising Christ in our young people. Our young people are not our future. They are our now. Let’s not miss out.