Frequently Asked Questions

for the Youth & Young Adult Delegate Proposal

During the March 2024 Spring Summits, delegates asked several thoughtful questions and we were listening. The Missional Leadership Team considered each question and formed the following responses. If you have additional questions or comments, you’re invited to email the Conference Office.

What are the unintended consequences of this change?

The inclusion of up to two youth or young adult delegates per congregation is aimed at fostering intergenerational dialogue and ensuring that younger members have a voice in our decision-making processes. While we anticipate positive outcomes such as increased engagement and fresh perspectives, we acknowledge that this change may also bring challenges, such as adapting to increased participation and ensuring meaningful involvement of all delegates. We are committed to monitoring these changes closely and making adjustments as necessary to address any unintended consequences.

How does this affect congregations with smaller youth groups?

We recognize that not all congregations will be able to provide one or two youth delegates due to the size of their youth group. The intention is not to create a burden but to offer an opportunity. Congregations are encouraged to participate in this initiative to the extent that is feasible for them, and we will explore ways to support smaller congregations.

Can congregations invite youth delegates from other churches?

Delegates should serve as representatives of their own congregations to maintain the integrity and intention of congregational representation. While the idea of sharing youth delegates between congregations was proposed to foster community and resource sharing, we recognize the importance of each delegate’s direct connection to and representation of their congregation. However, we strongly encourage smaller congregations without youth delegates to invite youth from other congregations to share their experiences and perspectives. This approach enriches and engages all congregations, fosters inter-congregational ties, and provides a platform for youth voices to be heard without altering the fundamental role of a delegate as a representative of their own community.

What if a congregation wants to send more than two youth?

The current proposal allows for up to two youth or young adult delegates per congregation to ensure balanced representation across the conference. However, we highly encourage additional interested youth to participate in other conference activities and consider rotating delegate roles to involve more youth over time.

How do we develop a desire in young people to want to participate?

Creating a culture where young people feel valued, heard, and integral to the life of the church is crucial. This includes actively inviting their participation in congregation settings, offering meaningful roles, and ensuring their contributions impact decision-making. Mentorship programs and highlighting the significance of their involvement can also foster a desire to participate.

Why the rush to have this voted on?

The push to vote on this proposal stems from a desire to quickly engage our youth and young adults in the life of the conference, especially in light of the positive impacts observed in similar initiatives, like the 2023 delegate assembly in Kansas City, where youth and young adult voices were present for change. However, we are committed to thorough discussion and consideration to ensure that we move forward in a way that benefits the entire conference community.

Concerns about adding delegates beyond our bylaws and making exceptions.

The proposal to include youth and young adult delegates is being approached with careful consideration. We aim to amend the bylaws in a manner that reflects our community’s values and needs. Any adjustments to delegate numbers or participation will be clearly defined within the bylaws to maintain a trustworthy structure for all.

Can we be creative in how we carry this forward?

Absolutely. We welcome creative ideas for implementing this change and engaging youth delegates. From using technology to facilitate participation to integrating youth voices in new and meaningful ways, we encourage innovation in making conference activities vibrant and relevant.

How will youth handle the church struggling with contentious issues?

Dealing with contentious issues is a natural part of life in any faith community, including how we make decisions. This presents a unique opportunity for all delegates to model healthy disagreement and constructive dialogue. By actively involving youth in these discussions, we’re not just preparing them to contribute thoughtfully; we’re collectively committing to a culture where differing views are approached with empathy, respect, and a shared desire for understanding. This engagement serves as a critical learning ground for developing discernment, leadership skills, and appreciation for the strength found in our diversity. Through mentorship and deliberate preparation, we hope to equip youth delegates to navigate complex conversations and contribute to a richer, more inclusive community dialogue.

Can more youth be present even if only two have voting rights?

Yes, we encourage the presence and participation of as many interested youth and young adults as possible, regardless of voting rights. Their engagement in discussions, workshops, and other activities enriches the conference experience for everyone.