14 October 2022

Youngsters don’t want to keep church seats warm anymore

Elise Lente Meester – 11 October 2022

The smooth rocks of youths. Frits Rouvoet: “Give youngsters more leadership. They have the answers we’re looking for.”

“What stands out to me is, when I talk to a group of youngsters, that they get into action. The elderly often don’t. They do have an opinion, and this is regularly followed by a donation. But youths come into action,” Frits Rouvoet explains. He is the founder of Bright Fame, an organization that helps people get out of prostitution. Rouvoet also pleads for a David generation: “But we need to give them the space. A lot more space. They have answers, smooth rocks, that we might not even know.” Frits Rouvoet talks about how we can give the youngsters more space for leadership and how it resembles the story of David and Goliath.

What’s your opinion on how the churches are doing this at the moment?

Frits: “I don’t want to put all communities and churches on the same level. But I visit a lot of churches and often times the youngsters get little space. We always say: youths are the future of the church. But youths are also the current church. There are a lot of youngsters that don’t agree with the church anymore. They don’t just want to sit back at church, keeping the church seats warm. They’re not receptive to that. They need to see the possibility to develop themselves, get into action.”

Youngsters don’t want to keep the church seats warm

What does that space look like?

“Give youths leadership. Don’t be on top of everything, but give them trust and responsibilities. When you look at businesses, often times the son takes over the business from his dad. He learns all the ins and outs, and the love for the profession grows. Why let this all depend on Bible school, a theological school before anyone can do something? Give people leadership now. Make them an elder, an aspiring elder even. That’s how the ‘profession’ goes from a spiritual father and mother to the sons and daughters.”

You often compare the youngsters’ role with David and Goliath. Please explain?

Frits: “Look, David was apparently fourteen years old when he fought Goliath. His country is at war, his brothers are at the front, but David stayed with his sheep. His dad asks him to deliver some food to them. I think that David was fed up by this, because he wanted to fight, too. But once at the front he hears and sees Goliath raging – cursing God. He protests but his brothers reply with: ‘Shut up man, go back to your sheep.’ ‘I can’t say anything’, David replies. I think this is recognizable when you look at the church and youngsters coming up with ideas. Such a typical teenage response. But us adults shouldn’t look down on youths, but listen to their ideas”

I can’t say anything, David replies. A typical teenage response, right?

And David goes up to the giant all by himself…

Frits: “David decides not to take this and goes up to the giant alone. Saul offers him his own weaponry, but it was way too big. So, David only takes his slingshot and five smooth rocks. Goliath yells: “Am I a dog, that you’d sent this little boy up against me?” While the army of Israel is watching there being paralyzed. We all know what happens next. David fires one rock, Goliath goes down and David kills him. After that, the army of Israel runs down and defeats the enemy.  I think it’s important that we give youngsters a chance to defeat the giants with their own means.

Youngsters should defeat the giants with their own means. Social Media for example.

What are these own means?

“Look, we can all see that the world has changed. You can’t expect to achieve something now with the means of the past. I recall that in the past we were warned for MSN. It would be dangerous, many Christians said. But I still remember going into my daughters room and finding her praying for someone via MSN. Isn’t that beautiful? Would this be my way? No. But that doesn’t mean it’s a wrong way.”

He proceeds: “The armour, shield and sword of Saul didn’t fit the boy – it was way too big. But he did learn how to use a slingshot and rocks. A rock youngsters can use is Social Media, for example. There are a lot of giants in this country that need to be defeated. Porn, prostitution, bullying, that type of giants. I believe that youths have the answers. They have defeated bears and lions, or they are working on it. The things they struggle with will be their victory.”

Leadership of all ages, that would be beautiful

What role do ‘adults’ have in this story?

Frits: “Youngsters need an example. I still remember, when I was younger, asking the reverend: ‘Reverend, how did you know you were called by God?’ And he responded: ‘That’s private.’ Well, that didn’t help me at all. Youths need fathers and mothers. The openness to have a conversation. We need each other. Elderly have certain wisdom, they already have made some mistakes. It would be beautiful if we had leadership of all ages, wide leadership. Walking together.”

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