TAIPEI-- The youth congregation of the Presbyterian Church of Taiwan has been recorded as declining over the last two decades, according to recent internal studies done by the denomination.
A seminar entitled "Youth Congregation Development and Growth in Local Churches Case Studies" was held Monday, according to PCT news service. Joining the effort of the Church’s Research and Development Center and three other theological seminaries, a conclusion was drawn based on seven research thesis.
Researchers and scholars have agreed that the theology behind youth congregation development and growth in local churches should be based on "holistic mission", which emphasizes preaching the Gospel, training of disciples, serving with love, transforming the society as well as caring for the nature.
According to the statistics from 1985 to 2004, the youth congregation of PCT is slowly decreasing in number, meaning more young believers are missing from the pews. Disregarding rough data taken before year 2000, the latest set of data in 2005 shows that the average number of youth attendance reaches around 10,943, taking up one-tenth of all congregation.
The statistics revealed that most young people in the churches rather participate in fellowship or cell group activities, and the main reason for their leaving is that the Sunday Service and fellowship time clash.
In addition, it is suggested that the Church Growth theory "imported" from overseas may not be applicable in Taiwan churches. Instead of purposely trying to increase the size of youth congregation, the Church must fulfill its basic responsibilities to allow youth congregation grow in a natural way, according to the study.
Clear strategies, quality of pastors, spirituality of the youth counseling ministry are the three key factors influencing the growth of the second generation in the Church, say theologians.
Lastly, PCT’s Research and Development Center said it plans to conduct more well-organized and precise survey about the youth congregation in the near future, with an aim to discover the bottleneck of youth ministry as well as setting up more efficient mission strategies.
Source: The Presbyterian Church of Taiwan
[Editor's note: Kevin Luk from Taipei has contributed in this report.]