Why Young People Leave the UMC: A Reaction from Ms. M

Hi everyone, thanks so much for your interest in my previous blogpost: Why Filipino Young People Leave Traditional Christian Denominations.

I may have hit on a palpable pain point in the church. But not surprisingly, hindi lang United Methodist Church ang may ganitong problema. I heard from several friends and other online connections na nasa ibang churches about their own problem of young people leaving traditional churches in favor of the CF’s.

I just feel compelled to provide a disclaimer: I love the United Methodist Church and this is an attempt to understand why young people are leaving the church. We need to have honest conversations about faith and spirituality. In the end, this is a question of ministry and loving people.

With that said, I am posting several reactions to the post last week. This one is from a former UMYF leader who is still within the UMC, but who actively attends one of the CF’s in Metro Manila. I changed some of the details of the story below, but I believe it reflects a lot of the realities that young Methodists face.

Please comment in a civilized manner. I will not tolerate rude, condescending, or any comment that will not help in understanding this matter. You can express surprise, hurt, or any emotion you may feel in reaction to this post, but do so in love and respect. – Mighty

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image credit: TheGospelCoalition.org

Right now, I still help out in the UMYFP in our district somewhere in the Manila Episcopal Area. I still serve our local church. But here in Manila, I am active in _CF Makati & Sundays at _CF Ubelt.

Why?

1. Growth

When I went to college in the España U-Belt area, I was active in the Upperbox Ministry of Central UMC and with the Vesper Choir. This was my inactive years in UMYF back home due to distance & my study schedule.

Honestly, all I desired was to serve God & people. I didn’t have personal devotion time and even a discipleship group which really focuses on my spiritual walk like the set-up of the 12 apostles, Paul & Timothy.

I was seriously drained, and there came a major blow in my life that I hit rock bottom, I was physically alone battling that struggle. So I asked for help from one of my UMYF friends who iwas already active in _CF. From that time on, i was refueled & revived.

Continue reading Why Young People Leave the UMC: A Reaction from Ms. M

Why Filipino Young People Leave Traditional Christian Denominations

After the Christmas Institute season in 2014, I decided to look more deeply into the reason why a lot of United Methodist youth and young adults are leaving the United Methodist Church and moving to newer, more exciting church movements such as Victory Christian Fellowship (VCF), Christ Commission Fellowship (CCF), and Doulos for Christ Ministry among others.

I’ve heard a lot of stories from friends, former co-leaders in the National level of the United Methodist Youth Fellowship in the Philippines. The more I talked with friends in the ministry and young leaders in the grassroots, the more I am convinced that we are losing our most passionate young adults to these groups.

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image credit: TheGospelCoalition.org

 

The big question is WHY?

But before attempting to answer this big question, I want to lay down some facts or perhaps assumptions (MY assumptions, that is…) would be a better term to use here.

Continue reading Why Filipino Young People Leave Traditional Christian Denominations

YPM Kapihan (Nov 2014): Christmas Institute Edition

In November 15, 2014, I got together with several youth leaders, and youth workers to talk about the Christmas Institute. It’s easily the biggest youth ministry event in the United Methodist Church in the Philippines. On average, about 250 young people gather from December 26-30 in more than 50 Districts. That would translate to around 12,500 United Methodist youth who gather around the Philippines for fellowship, worship, study, and preparation for ministry.

We had a fruitful discussion as we talked about our own Christmas Institute experiences and how it has shaped our journeys as United Methodist Christians.

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On the whole, the Christmas Institute is still an important part of the journey of youth in the UMC, but we need to innovate and come up with creative ways to make the CI harvest more sustainable and effective.

Here are some of the thoughts and ideas that the group came up with.

Continue reading YPM Kapihan (Nov 2014): Christmas Institute Edition

Young Leaders Summit 2014: Days 3, 4, & 5

Issue in Focus: Climate Change and Sustainable Agriculture with Rev. Pepz Cunanan

On Day 3 of the Young Leaders Summit 2014, the delegates went through another workshop on an important Issue in Focus: Climate Change and Agriculture. Rev. Jose Pepz Cunanan led the session and showed the delegates many different ways to organize a garden. He used a popular Filipino folk song, “Bahay Kubo” as a backdrop for the possibility of planting and harvesting many different vegetables in a small piece of land.

Our delegates from Laos found the workshop very, very useful because they are farmers. Rev. Cunanan also distributed some seeds that the delegates could use when they go back to their own places.

Rev. Pepz Cunanan, Workshop leader for "Climate Change and Sustainable Agriculture" with the YLS 2014 delegates
Rev. Pepz Cunanan, Workshop leader for “Climate Change and Sustainable Agriculture” with the YLS 2014 delegates

Visioning Session with Rev. Mike Ratliff

The Visioning session is probably my favorite part of the Young Leaders Summit since the first one last year. It’s just awesome to listen to the visions of young people for the church and for the Philippine society. Mike asked them to look at the History of the United Methodist Church in the Philippines, then the Present, and lastly, he asked the delegates to open their spiritual eyes and present what their visions are for the church in the future.

Rev. Mike Ratliff asking the YLS 2014 delegates about "What has shaped your church?"
Rev. Mike Ratliff asking the YLS 2014 delegates about “What has shaped your church?”

Continue reading Young Leaders Summit 2014: Days 3, 4, & 5

Young Leaders Summit 2014: Day 1 and 2

What do you get when Methodist young leaders from the Philippines, Cambodia, and Laos come together? Lots of fun and awesome learning experiences at Pranjetto Hills Resort and Conference Center, Brgy. Sampalok, Tanay, Rizal. It was in the mountains, so we really a mountain-top experience, literally and figuratively.

What’s more, Rev. Mike Ratliff, Discipleship Ministries’ Associate General Secretary for Young People’s Ministries was also there, together with my colleague from Africa, Armindo Mapoissa.

Every activity and session during the Young Leaders Summit were meant to lead to the accomplishment of the following goals:

The objectives of this Summit are:

  • To help conference leaders identify the young leaders among them and invest in their further development.
  • To establish and develop relationships among young leaders in the Philippines.
  • To provide information on leadership development including perspective from our own culture and context as Filipinos.
  • To provide an avenue for sharing challenges and successes in ministry from differing contexts in the Philippines, allowing young leaders to learn from each other (ultimately strengthening ministries in the Philippines).
  • To allow young people the opportunity to identify the current realities of their church in the Philippines utilizing a framework of the Appreciative Inquiry and Future Search processes.

Day 1

Who’s Your Mary Rose?

We started the Summit with an Opening Worship with the keynote address of Mr. Jayjay Lizarondo, founder of Helping Overcome Poverty through Education (HOP-E). He challenged young people to work towards becoming God’s agent in building the kingdom of heaven here on Earth. He shared the story of how he met Mary Rose, a young child who was going through garbage for food and recyclable things at the dump site of Taytay, Rizal.

He created a short documentary about the life of Mary Rose and the other scavengers at the dump site. Eventually, he had partners that helped Mary Rose get out of a life of scavenging at the dumpsite. Along the way, Jayjay thought that he was changing Mary Rose. But it was the other way around, Mary Rose was helping him change his perspective toward God’s mission here on Earth.

Here’s the story of Jayjay Lizarondo and his encounter with Mary Rose.

At the end of his keynote speech, Jayjay challenged the young leaders to discover who their “Mary Rose” is and asked them to make a difference in such lives.

Day 2

Continue reading Young Leaders Summit 2014: Day 1 and 2

GYPCLA 2014 Behind the Scenes: Typhoon Glenda

My sleeping habits have gone back to normal, although my eye bags are still pretty dark and big. I finally went back to our home church last Sunday (3 Aug 2014), and most importantly, I finally get to spend a lot of time with my wife and our son Malcolm.

Yup, the Global Young People’s Convocation and Legislative Assembly is finally over. I still wonder how we were able to pull through the logistical nightmare that it became, thanks to category 3 typhoon Glenda (international name: Rammasum).

We kept telling people that Tagaytay was safe, it’s hardly visited by typhoons, it’s pretty hilly and high and there was nothing to worry about.

In fact, in the afternoon of July 15, I was back in Manila to deal with several matters–finances and transportation. By 2 pm, it rained hard. But after less than an hour, the clouds parted and some sunlight escaped the clouds.

Manila was supposed to be under signal no. 2.

I thought: “This is signal no. 2? Nothing to worry.”

Boy was I wrong!

That evening, while we were at CCT Tagaytay and Retreat Center, we happily welcomed the delegate who started arriving. Our Hospitality team, headed by Nissan Escusa did a great job ensuring that they had transportation directly from the airport to Tagaytay.

Everything went well up to midnight. Beyond that, we were still expecting one bus, and 5 vans to bring close to a hundred delegates–most of them from the United States.

And then, by about 2:00 in the morning, typhoon Glenda unleashed its fury over Tagaytay. I thought, it will go away in just a matter of an hour or two. I was wrong.

The howling, destructive winds, stayed with us for close to eight hours, with about an hour and a half calm in between when the eye passed us by.

Continue reading GYPCLA 2014 Behind the Scenes: Typhoon Glenda

The Calling of Jeremiah

Si Jeremiah ay isang propeta. May isang Bible book na devoted sa kwento ng buhay niya. Just grab a Bible at hanapin sa Table of Contents kung nasaan ang Jeremiah, buklat buklat, then you’ll find it.

Nakakatuwa kasi ang kwento ni Jeremiah. Kabataan pa lang siya nung tinawag siya ni Lord na magsilbi bilang prophet. At talaga namang nakipagdiscussion pa siya nang konti kay Lord.

Kung babasahin mo ang Jeremiah Chapter 1, makikita mo dun kung paano siya tinawag ni Lord. At based sa kwentong ito, marami tayong malalaman tungkol sa relationship ni Lord sa atin.

Ito ang ilan sa mga lessons na mapupulot natin sa buhay ni Jeremiah:

God knows you.

Ito ang sabi ni Lord kay Jeremiah:

“I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb.
Before you were born I set you apart
and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.”

Ang sweet di ba?! Parang “I knew I loved you before I met you.” God knows us deeply. At bago pa man tayo ipinanganak, may purpose na si Lord para sa ating buhay. Amazing di ba?

Yes, hindi ka perfect. All the same, God can use you.

At siempre, may objection si Jeremiah sa pagkatawag sa kanya. Ito namang si Lord, di po ako marunong magsalita. Ang bata ko pa kaya…

“O Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I can’t speak for you! I’m too young!”

The Lord replied, “Don’t say, ‘I’m too young,’ for you must go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell you. And don’t be afraid of the people, for I will be with you and will protect you. I, the Lord, have spoken!” Then the Lord reached out and touched my mouth and said,

“Look, I have put my words in your mouth!
Today I appoint you to stand up
against nations and kingdoms.
Some you must uproot and tear down,
destroy and overthrow.
Others you must build up
and plant.”

If God calls you, He also enables you.

Alam naman ni Lord na hindi ka perpekto. Kagaya ni Jeremiah. Pero, kung tinawaga ka Niya, ibig sabihin God will also equip you and enable you para gawin yung mga pinapagawa niya sa iyo. God even touched the lips of Jeremiah para ipakita na seryoso siya.

When God calls you, He gives you a vision.

After na tinawag ni Lord si Jeremiah at nakita ni Jeremiah na wala na siyang lusot. Ayun, God gave him a vision. Kaya nga ang tanong ni Lord kay Jeremiah: “Look, Jeremiah! What do you see?”

At eto na nga ang challenging part sa pagkatawag kay Jeremiah. It was not easy to proclaim the word from God. Essentially, si Jeremiah ang magiging spokesman ni Lord sa mga kababayan niyang matitigas ang ulo.

When God calls you, you need to obey.

It might be a difficult path. Pero if God calls you, he can do mighty things through you. Sunod ka lang. God has you covered.

What’s Your Calling?

If you’re young, malamang madalas mong tinatanong kung para saan ba ang buhay na ito? Para saan nga ba?

Sa totoo lang, medyo mahirap sagutin yan.  Okay lang naman na hindi mo pa alam at first. Siempre, if you’re young, you want to enjoy life. Minsan, party-party. Minsan serious mode. Pero kung hindi mo ito sasagutin, eventually, maiistress ka!

So ngayon pa lang, maganda siguro, pause for a moment. Pray. Then ask yourself, “Ano ba ang calling ko sa buhay?” What does God want me to do?

First off. Hindi ako naniniwala na isa at ISA lamang ang itinadhana ng Diyos na gawin mo
. At parang kapag hindi mo nahanap yun eh you miss God’s will sa buhay mo. Minsan kasi, ang mga Pastor at ilang mga Christians, kapag sinabi na may “calling” ka, ang gusto talaga nilang sabihin sa iyo eh “Magpastor ka!”

Pero hindi naman ganun kasimple yun. Iba iba ang skills natin. Iba-iba ang mga interests natin. Kaya iba-iba din ang calling natin. Continue reading What’s Your Calling?

School for Christian Youth Development: Recommended Subjects

The School for Christian Youth Development is an annual project of the Board of Discipleship of the annual conferences. In several annual conferences, it is the Council on Youth Ministries that implements this program. It is a three-year school meant for the development of Methodist youth so that they would be equipped for ministry in their respective local churches, districts and annual conferences.

The SCYD usually runs for two weeks. In several conferences, it is implemented for three weeks. Still, others do it for only a week! The students for each year level goes through around 6-7 subjects in a year. After attending the school for three years, the SCYD graduates will then be recognized by their annual conference as official youth lay speakers. This school is more than just a camp. It is a formal school being run by the church with classroom instructions, field work and extra-curricular activities for young people.

A number of pastors and deaconesses from all over the Philippines have decided to become full-time church ministry as a result of their exposure and training in the SCYD. The SCYD, however, is mainly implemented by annual conferences in the Baguio and Davao Episcopal Areas. Only two of the conferences in the Manila Episcopal Area do implement this program.

The School for Christian Youth Development is a three-year program implemented by the Board of Discipleship of the Annual Conference. It is meant to equip young people for ministries in the church. It usually lasts for two weeks during the Summer (April or May).

Continue reading School for Christian Youth Development: Recommended Subjects