Getting involved in the church as a young person has its pros and cons.

You might be thinking, ‘cons – how could that be?’ Well, experiences differ from person to person. Personally, being surrounded by people of the same faith has encouraged me to play the piano for Divine Services and Sabbath School. This has helped to grow my confidence, presenting to large audiences; and I have become a better pianist. Also, it may have encouraged other young people to get involved in church as well as me!

Although I had a positive experience in this area, other young people may not feel as needed; or they may feel scared like I used to be. This issue can be resolved with experience. The more you involve yourself in church services, the more you will feel comfortable participating in them, in the future.

However, as ‘the church’ is the people, not everyone will share opinions. For example, a common issue I’ve found is young people saying that church is boring. An adult may think that the child simply isn’t paying attention or listening during church; however, the child may feel like he or she isn’t involved during most parts of the service other than Children’s Story.

Back in 2018 and 2019, Reading West held many separate Children’s Church and Messy Church services upstairs to help tackle this problem, but ever since Covid-19 came, we have not had one of these services! We do have Children’s Days where the kids lead out during Divine Service, however.

One major challenge faced by everyone has been Covid-19, especially for the young people, as they have had exams (GCSEs) interrupted and missed an entire year of school. My personal experience with Covid-19 has been quite difficult, as it interfered with my first year of GCSEs: Year 9. It was in March 2020 when the first national lockdown started; and from then to September, I was off school with work unrelated to my GCSEs. I missed a lot of content that I needed for my Year 10 end-of-year exams, and it affected my grades and many other students’ grades. It must have been worse for Year 11s and 13s during Covid, not being able to sit their GCSEs and getting graded based on classwork.

Experiencing isolation during the Covid-19 lockdown – I found it hard to socialize with others and started getting nervous when I first saw people. When church re-opened during lockdown, these nerves slowly went away, as I was interacting with people more often. There weren’t many pianists coming to church during this time, so I got to play the piano for the Divine Services more often. This also helped with the nerves, and by the end of lockdown, my nervousness was gone! I’m very sure other young people have had a similar experience of a 7-month lockdown, sat at home with nowhere to go.

In conclusion, young people have experienced many challenges, especially during the pandemic. The grace of God has helped us overcome these challenges and helped us to develop a stronger relationship with Him and with the church.

Christopher Onditi