I just would like to share to you the Youth Address that I gave last April 17, 2013 during the 1st day of our 5th Annual Conference session
at the Quezon City Philippines Annual Conference East.
I was encouraged by many to post this and share it to a larger audience so many (especially members of the UMC) will be challenged and inspired.
Hope you can have the time to read and reflect on it!
Enjoy and God bless!
Good day to everyone! To our beloved Bishop, Bishop Rudy A. Juan, to our DS Cleto Pera and DS Dan Miranda, to our QCPACE Lay Leader Mrs. Gloria Dimalanta, to our Pastors, our Annual, District and local Leaders and to my fellow UMYF who are here. Greetings!
But, first before I start may I request everyone to rise and give a loud UMYF clap to our Lord for He is good and faithful to us.
It is with great honour and humility to be giving you this Youth Address. It is a great privilege to be giving the 1st ever youth address in our Annual Conference session.
This is not an easy task for a young man like me to be standing in front of all the leaders of this conference
but I am very blessed to be taking the task just like when David was called to be a young king, just like Jeremiah who at a young age was called to be a prophet and also when Timothy was asked by Paul to lead and be an example to the early churches.
– “Making Disciples of Jesus Christ to transform the world” is the theme for the next 4 years of our conference. Simple as it may sound but difficult to achieve, after all this is the “Great Commission” of Jesus Christ but this very day the real question to be asked is
“Are we really doing this agenda of making disciples of Christ? Is our Church, the United Methodist Church really focusing on this?”
On a side note, I would like to share my personal story. I accepted Jesus Christ as my savior during my 1st summer camp at Goodsam UMC at the age of 13 then I started to serve the Church through the youth ministry since 14 years old. Starting with the DVCS ministry and then started to join practices of the worship team then years after I was elected to the local office at the age of 17 when we transferred to Puno United Methodist Church then eventually moved up to the district office at the age of 21 and now in the annual office. Through those 10 years of youth ministry (even though that was short- compared to most of you here) I experienced and was exposed to a lot of things (good or bad) in the church.
Now back to my question:
Are we really making disciples?
Some may agree with me, others may not but please bear with me as I answer them from the point of view of a UMYF.
Yes and No.
Yes – because we have lots programs and activities that “seem” to have that agenda.
No – because we focus too much on executing these programs and activities that we are becoming too technical about it while we forget on what God really wants us to do. WE are becoming too “Program-Centered” forgetting the essence of the program itself. This may not be true to some, but in the UMYF we usually experience this.
Yes and No
Yes – because we are very active in serving the Church. We attend all the meetings, present in all activities, elected in many positions (President na, Worship leader pa, Tambourine dancer pa at usher pa!Ikaw na!hehe!)
No -because yet we are active in serving the Church, our souls suffer. Do most of us still have that time devoted to God? When we go outside the church, do people know that we are Christians or Methodists because of what we do? Or do people only know that we are Christians when we start saying it because our lives alone don’t reflect it?
James 1:22 says “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only”
Or even inside the Church are we a good reflection of a disciple of Christ? Are we on good terms with our members, pastors? Does John 13:35 which says “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Reflect in us?
How can we make disciples if we ourselves are not disciples yet? How can we be disciples if “THE DISCIPLER which is JESUS does not reflect in our lives? 1 John 2:6 says “Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.”
These are one of the many main issues in our young people or maybe even as a whole Church today.
Young leaders who are not only engaged on wordly things but also on immoral things and yet proclaim and preach that they are Christian Leaders.
Young leaders who don’t really have a deep understanding of the word of God and who don’t know the true essence of being a disciple.
Now, how can we make disciples if our leaders themselves are not “Disciples of Christ”?!
1 Timothy 4:12 challenges us “that we should set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct and in faith”
I myself was once that leader who was engaged on wordly things because I was not really rooted on the true essence of the faith.
We focus too much on the “other important things” yet ignoring the “most important thing”
On example would be this:
We exert too much effort on celebrative and festive activities but have we exerted that same effort on more essential activities like building discipleship programs, bible studies, cell groups, mentorship programs?
Are we really making enough efforts to make DISCIPLES?
Yes – because we have programs like Christmas Institutes, Summer Camps, Revival gatherings etc.
No – because events are not enough. Mentoring and discipleship should back-it-up. Able mentors and Disciplers
should be there to attend to these things.
I myself is a product of our CI and Summer Camps, this is where I really met Christ and accepted Him as Lord and Savior
but through the mentoring of our pastors and my parents and through extensive bible studies and through the accountability that I got from my cell groups did I get to know what a true disciple of Christ should be.
But now the other question is Do we have able mentors and disciplers?
Yes – we have lots of great pastors, deaconesses, lay leaders who can really mentor and disciple
BUT Do we empower them enough? Do we really SUPPORT them?
Forgive me if I have to tell this story.
Maybe this story is from a wrong point of view, but what am I going to tell is actually a true story;
There’s this young lady who really wants to go into a full-time ministry in the UMC, but sadly there are factors that distracts her not to go
1. Her parents don’t quite approved of her going into full-time because they are afraid that their daughter
might be “kawawain” ng council. Those financial obligations might not be fully given by the Church and other concerns
2. She herself is afraid that she will experience “the rough politics” of the church.
I know some of you might agree or disagree, others may argue that her calling might not be true that she doesn’t trust the Lord but again the fact is these type of scenarios happen in our church today because the question still lies “Are we really empowering the Church workers and Leaders especially our workers??”
These are just some of the scenarios that we have.
How about the scenario of a Pastor vs. The church? Or a Pastor vs. another Pastor? Or the Church member vs. the other Church member? Or the young people going over to another church because of disillusionments in the Church?
Again John 13:35 “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Again apologies if I have to point at these sad scenarios, but again these are just some real-life scenarios that I am just enumerating to everyone that others may find normal but for the young people in our Church, these are scenarios na “nagpapatisod po sa aming kabataan”
Paul reminded us in 1Corinthians 1:10 “I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. “
Our Church has just been revived but I believe that doesn’t stop there. As a Church what we also need is TRANSFORMATION.
TRANSFORMATION in how we think, TRANSFORMATION in how we speak, TRANSFORMATION in how we act
Romans 12:2 says: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Our Church has a perfect will from God if we only transform!
If we are to make disciples to transform our world, I guess that transformation should start within the church. Within the Leadership of the Church and that means from the Bishop down to the Youth Leaders.
Our forefather John Wesley once said that:
“Preach faith till you have it; and then, because you have it, you will preach faith.”
Do we really have that faith that John Wesley describes?
I guess this is the challenge for most of us here, “A life that reflects of a transformed faith”.
As I said earlier, we in the youth ministry experience this same challenge over and over again.
Leaders who don’t live like a transformed Christian resulting to divisions in the fellowship, members who seek other churches because of disillusionments in the Church? How many times has this happened? A lot of times actually but how are we dealing with this? Do we really aim to transform or do we have other aims?
We in the UMYF can only do so much, because I believe we as a whole Church should attend to all these problems as one BODY.
Before I end I would like to share this quote from John Wesley, which I know some of you know:
“I am not afraid that the people called Methodists should ever cease to exist either in Europe or America. But I am afraid, lest they should only exist as a dead sect, having the form of religion without the power. And this undoubtedly will be the case, unless they hold fast both the doctrine, spirit, and discipline with which they first set out.”
From this quote, I believe John Wesley’s message here is, it is better that we don’t exist rather than exist yet we exist not by the doctrines and disciplines set by the Bible and not by the Holy Spirit that empowers us to be LOVING, to be JOYFUL, to be PEACEFUL, to be PATIENT, to be KIND and GOOD, and to be FAITFUL
But at the very end of this address the question still remains, are we really
TRUE DISCIPLES of CHRIST?
I hope and pray that the answer is YES, so we can go out and transform the world!
To God be the Glory!