The three archbishops turned heads when they entered synod this morning. Instead of cassocks they sported vivid t-shirts splashed with slogans: ‘Make the first move,’ ‘Every moment is the right moment’ and ‘Because it matters.’
You had to look twice.
But it was more than just a fashion statement. The new attire was designed to demonstrate to this church that if it hopes to thrive in the future, youth ministry needs to be a top priority now.
That was the message hammered home by the Tikanga Toru Youth Commission in its presentation to General Synod/Te Hinota Whanui in Nadi this morning.
The t-shirts declared three steps offered by the Commission as a resource to mentor new disciples and to make youth ministry a priority in ministry units.
When Bishop David Rice (Liasion Bishop for the Commission) asked the gathering 'Why?' the synod delegates responded by roaring 'Because it matters!'
Bishop David then reminded synod that youth ministry is a serious business. It demands commitment and is about more than mere slogans.
"Youth ministry does not happen by chance,” he said. “You need to remember the slogans – but we are after something far deeper, with a real commitment to youth ministry."
Tikanga Toru Youth Commisioner Michael Tamihere spoke of his role in the past 18 months as challenging but also an immense blessing.
“I am so privileged,” he said, “to witness more stories than I can remember about mission by young people.
“The Commission aims to live out and realise the potential in youth and the three slogans give steps that answer the question 'Why?'
The Rev Canon Mere Wallace was inspired. She said she intends to take the resource back to the West Coast.
“I think their presentation had real buy-in,” she said. “That 'Why?' thing had everybody captivated.'
Bishop Justin Duckworth described the presentation as giving direction, passion and challenge.
And Bishop Api Qiliho of Polynesia told delegates: “We all need to take the first step. Young people come with different expectations and we, the church, need to lead people in the right direction.'"
It’s become clear that the question “Why?” and the refrain “Because it matters” will be heard time and again this synod. And not just for youth matters.
• Sign up for the youth resource at www.makethefirstmove.org