Give them the keys


I was hoping against hope that I would be chosen. That little voice in my head told me I wouldn’t be. That little voice that had negative things to say, the voice that told me I wasn’t athletic enough, was too slow and too fat to make the team. My youthful optimism and love of sport clamoured to disagree. I might be picked for B grade. Or even C. That’s why I put my name down. I’d give it a go. 

If we as a Church hope to be disciples of Jesus making other disciples and have total member involvement, then we need to be giving men and women, young and old, opportunities to use their talents and gifts for God.

I was in year 6 and hoping to play basketball on one of the school teams at the local recreation centre. I’d always loved watching sport but playing was another thing. At school, I got involved, enjoyed it and gave my very best. But I was always slower and less coordinated than many of the boys in my class. 

As the names were read out, mine wasn’t among them. In my mind I began frantically mitigating my expectation, telling myself it was OK, not to worry. 

So I almost missed it when the A grade squad was announced and my name was on it. I was shocked: surely there had been some mistake. But no, the names were posted and there was mine. I was in. You couldn’t steal the smile off my face. 

It was just one of many moments my coach and teacher, Mr S, invested in me and built my self-confidence. He saw something in me and gave me a chance. Granted, my skills were limited but I had height! And we became a great team. I had a role and did my best to fulfil it and have played basketball ever since. 

I have often reflected on that moment in my life and where I would be without it. It gave me a way to make friends and earn respect at high school, college and beyond. I now play on a team made up mostly of people I’ve met through basketball. They are non-Adventist friends, providing me with opportunities I would not have had if I hadn’t been empowered at a crucial point in my life to do something I wasn’t even sure I could.

It started with giving me a go. Not at something I was already qualified for or even good at. It was just empowerment, I can only think, for the sake of building me up. 

Empowerment leads to ownership and ownership leads to investment. If we as a Church hope to be disciples of Jesus making other disciples and have total member involvement, then we need to be giving men and women, young and old, opportunities to use their talents and gifts for God. 

At the recent South Queensland camp meeting, I attended a few sessions in the young adult tent. While other tents had featured speakers—often international speakers of very high quality—the young adult tent had local young people presenting. I saw young people investing in other young people. I saw them being given an opportunity to get involved and respond to calls to serve. 

Out of the responses, 12 young people said they felt the call to pastoral ministry and 60 others responded that they would like to do some form of ministry in the Church. 

Are we giving our members and our young people similar opportunities and experiences? Yes, in some cases. However, so long as we see young people as the future, we will continue to cling to power and control of how the Church runs and operates. This gives plenty of time for our young people to become disillusioned and discouraged. 

During the Sabbath morning service, Pastor Brett Townend encouraged the young adults to be involved and symbolically handed them the keys. Jesus gave Peter the keys to the kingdom and by extension, to those who believe in Him as Christ (Matthew 16:13-20). The work of the kingdom is for all who believe.

One of my favourite scenes in the New Testament is when Jesus’ disciples are sent out by Him to preach and heal (Mark 6, Matthew 10, Luke 9 and 10). I can just imagine their excitement as they began to see lives changed through God’s power. That excitement is contagious. 

I was blessed to grow up in a church that involved young children in the service quite often. In a multi-generational, multi-ethnic church people with different skills and different life experiences can work together to form a strong and functional community. Wisdom and experience are complemented by youthful exuberance and energy. The strength of a church like that, is that all of its members are equipped and active in mission.

Jarrod Stackelroth is editor of Adventist Record