Becoming a Church Of Refuge
Sadly, not everyone has a good experience when they attend, or visit, an Adventist Church. Whether you are a long time attendee, or you have moved to the area and visiting a church, too often the experience of attending a church can be discouraging, off-putting, or even offensive. I recently heard of one individual who was introduced to the Pastor of a church, who failed to follow up with the contact, stating they did not know what to do with this individual. Fortunately this is not the normal experience, but it is an all too regular experience.
It may be that you have attended a church regularly, or irregularly, and have grown to realise that no one really knows you or is interested in you. Either experience is all to common with young adults, and frequently with students.
Please don't give up. Whether your church is bad at being a welcoming sanctuary, or is good but wants to improve, Church Of Refuge might be the formula and opportunity your church and visitors can benefit from.
Loosely connected to the idea of cities of refuge in Deuteronomy 19, Church Of Refuge is a concept that prompts a church to consider ten principles, and see how they can better address them in becoming a welcoming place, offering acceptance and care to those who attend.
The ten principles are:
The CORe Criteria
All churches who participate in the CORe project try to provide a place where youth and young adults will feel comfortable. In order for this to happen a CORe church applies the following criteria or principles. CORe churches believe that the following criteria are essential to provide a comfortable yet challenging environment where youth and young adults will be able to discover and develop their faith.
CORe churches unconditionally accept young people, and are intentional in assisting their faith development.
CORe churches commit to systematically and sensitively praying for all of its young people.
CORe churches have a designated youth elder, someone with a feeling for young people, aware of their spiritual journey, appointed by, and is a member of, the church board.
CORe churches commit to actively seeking and getting in contact with young people who are moving, or have moved, into their vicinity.
CORe churches commit to staying in contact with anyone who, for whatever reason, has taken a break from active church fellowship.
CORe churches provide a physical meeting space for young people, with the opportunities to socialise.
CORe churches clearly communicate to their young people what they can expect, and provide opportunities for young people to get involved in the mission of the church.
CORe churches intentionally include young people in the development and ongoing evaluation of its aims and vision, and ensure all young people are aware of the church's vision.
CORe churches seek to integrate young people in the leadership of the church.
CORe churches have a substantial dedicated youth budget with a focus on resources for meaningful youth ministry, with consultation of the young people.
If you are interested in the CORe model, and would like to learn more, please look at www.icor.church and contact your regional youth director/sponsor who can provide new study materials to assist your group.