The Church will struggle to find good leaders in the future
PORT MARIA, St Mary:
Evangelist and youth director at the Beam of Light Church in Pembroke, St Mary, Ava-Dawn Roberts is concerned that although Christianity is popular throughout her parish, some church-going residents exhibit behaviours that are wholly incompatible with the lifestyle of a Christian.
Additionally, Roberts fears that in years to come, the Church in Jamaica could struggle to find suitable leaders because young, 21st-century Christians, for the most part, refuse to take on roles and positions of responsibility.
She told Family and Religion last week: "I think inconsistency is the biggest religious issue facing the people of St Mary right now. One minute you'll find that a person is depending on the Church for some sort of guidance, and then you find out they have cases in court that involve fights that have taken place on church grounds.
She continued: "I don't know if we are unrealistic or that it just hasn't dawned on some of us that this is a lifestyle. It's like it is real when we are reading the Bible, but when it comes to life application, we don't always measure up."
Roberts, who works for the St Mary Probation Office, is similarly troubled that in her own church, there is a noticeable generation gap that appears to be widening with each passing day.
She explained: "In my time, few young people would readily challenge the [church] leader, but now, you'll find that more of them are willing to challenge whatever is being said or done, and if you are not able to satisfy them and relate to the issues they have, you're going to lose them.
"The difficulty I have is that young people don't want the responsibility of leadership. They want the youth group to be successful, and it is because people come from all over to fellowship with us, but they don't want to be the ones to carry the group.
"When you push them to the fore, they'll tell you, 'I think you're the best person to do this,' and I tell them, 'Yes, but my time is coming to an end, so you have to take over.' But they don't want the responsibility."
To reverse this trend, Roberts believes the elder members of the Church must take the initiative and hand over certain ecclesiastical duties to young leaders and give them time to learn how to manage their new roles.
She said: "'The Lord said launch out into the deep (Luke 5:4),' and sometimes we tend to be too careful, fearing the risk of things going haywire. I think we need to shut our eyes for a certain time frame, say, 'This is yours,' give them a trial run and allow them to make their own mistakes.
"And if they're not too traumatised, they can revisit the situation and look at strengths, weaknesses, and where adjustments can be made.
"Young people need to know that just as they make the effort to learn everything about a new piece of technology such as a smart phone, the path they trod and lifestyle they have chosen is equally complex and rewarding and also offers connectability, so it makes sense to invest in it."