If You Want Something Done Well. . . As we mentioned in last months letter, we kicked off our "youth workers survey" by personally attended the National Congress of the Presbyterian Youth Societies, where we received 65 completed surveys from 15 different states (of the 32 in Mexico.) We also sent surveys to two other conferences held in the same week. At one, the 75 surveys that we sent were misplaced. At the other, they were handed out but then not collected. In both cases, the time slot allotted for completing and collecting the surveys was taken up by speakers who went significantly overtime. So although we got fewer back than we had hoped, they have given us a good start. Q: What is something specific you need in your work with youth? A: Everything If you could read the survey results it would break your heart. The responses we have gleaned so far are from many different states and types of churches, but the responses are strikingly similar. Most of the people working with youth are lay volunteers in their 20ís with no training, no resources but the Bible, and no budget but their own pocket. Of the 85 people we surveyed only 3 hold full-time paid positions. In general, the church is not putting a priority on youth. One of our questions asked: "How many members are there in your church? How many of those are youth? Of those youth, how many are actively involved in the youth activities?" Here are some answers from a wide range of church sizes: 33 members, of which 13 are youth, and 3 are actively involved in the youth activities; 80 members, 20 youth, 6 involved; 100 members, 30 youth, 2 involved; 200 members, 80 youth, 25 involved; 400 members, 55 youth, 25 involved; 1500 members, 300 youth, 150 involved. As you can see, the percent of youth (in Mexico, "youth" = 13 to 29 yr. olds and unmarried) attending the church and involved in youth activities doesnít really change even as churches grow. Our initial findings show that between 6 - 12% of the members of a Mexican church are youth, when 40% of the population of Mexico are youth. If these churches were effectively reaching the youth, their statistics should look like this: 100/40/45 - with the extra 5 being kids from outside their church that they are reaching out to. Youth Group President Gets Second Wind We took a 22 hour train ride from Mexico City to Torreon, Coahuila with several youth from our church including this yearís youth group president, Uriel Gonzales. Uriel started out the year excited about returning the group to itís glory days of a few years ago when it had lots of members, enthusiasm, and fellowship. But when things didnít change quickly and the pressures of his work and last semester of college closed in, he pretty much dropped out, blaming everyone else for being apathetic. We didnít expect the conference to help much because it was purely business (real C-SPAN quality stuff.) But God can work in spite of boring youth congresses, and He encouraged Uriel through contact with committed, excited Christians. Uriel came back wanting to finish the year well, and even ready to take on some responsibility.
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