Youthful Involvement in BCC’s Local Churches

Each year BCC carries out a comprehensive work for children and youth. We joined a gathering in BCC’s local church in Oslo Follo, where over 200 young people aged between 17 and 36 met together to prepare themselves for the season ahead.

Text: Berit H. Nilsen – Photo: Bessie Wong

This evening’s gathering starts with an inspiring kick-off by Kåre J. Smith. He is speaking to the young people who want to contribute by working in the various children’s’ and youth groups. – A mentor should be charitable, generous and have an upright care for the children and youth that he has to do with. When love for Jesus is present in your life, you have a refuge that nobody can take from you. Keep yourself close to God and to His word.

You Can Contribute Just as You Are

The young people in the hall follow the introduction with great interest. Mobile phones light up while they use the Bible app to search for the words that Smith reads. He continues by emphasizing the importance of the variety that the different youth represent. – It’s the life you live that makes you a good mentor, you don’t need special characteristics or talents. God can use you in His work just as you are.

Kåre J. Smith speaks of a life close to Jesus, of showing goodness to one another. Photo: BCC

A Broad Spectrum of Youth Groups

And there’s a great variety in this local church. Groups with a selection of interest fields for both boys and girls are to be found, so there is no doubt that many different mentors are needed. Here everyone should be able to find something that fits their interest, because there are groups that activate young people with the following:

  • Media and Graphics
  • Outdoor life
  • Acrobatics
  • Basketball
  • Football
  • Golf
  • Hockey
  • Music
  • Baking
  • Riding
  • Skating
  • Tennis
  • Technology/Gaming
  • Volleyball

Lots of Activity Requires Good Organization

It goes without saying that good organization is required in dealing with all these groups. And for the more practical matters that need to be gone through, younger people arrive on the scene. In the Oslo Follo local church this has been a systematical work for many years. Every fall there is a gathering such as this one, where procedures are once more gone through, in order to keep all mentors up-to-date. Moreover, many of those who have been mentors from previous years, really appreciate the encouragement and reminder about taking this work seriously.

Both guide lines, organization and finance need to be talked about, and several young people contribute by shedding light on the different themes and make a presentation as to how this is to be implemented in each youth group.

The Church Must Be a Safe Arena

Associations that work with children and young people must follow legally set-out procedures. In addition, BCC has centrally produced guidelines to ensure the security of both children, young people, parents and mentors themselves. A police attestation must be provided for everyone who wishes to be a mentor in the associations. Moreover, a self-declaration form, guaranteeing that one will follow guidelines for good behavior, must be filled out.

Gjermund Haukelidsæter makes a presentation, with a reminder that a good plan mustn’t just end up «in a draw». – It must form a part of the organizational structure. Everyone who has responsibility for their group must ensure that they are made aware of it and it is being followed.

 We want a safe environment for our children and youth, with active plans to prevent bullying and all types of negative behavior. Photo: BCC

Bullying and Injurious Behavior Will Not be Tolerated

It is a very minimum requirement that all those who wish to work with children and youth in BCC align themselves with BCC’s policy and aims of zero tolerance regarding bullying, sexual assault and transboundary behavior. Alcohol and other stimulants are not acceptable in connection with working as a mentor with children and young people in BCC.

Why is the Commitment So High Among these Young People?

The purpose of the work with children and young people in BCC is that all between 13 and 19 years will have a positive alternative both in the summer – and the winter season. In the local church Oslo Follo this is already a reality, but one can wonder why the commitment is so great.

– We want everyone who grows up in the Church to be able to look back on a childhood which was a good and secure time for them, “says Gjermund Haukelidsæter to the youngsters in the audience. -it is there that you and I can be good contributors. Think about how you talk to those you have to do with; what you say to a child of 10 to 12 years of age can fix itself in their memory forever.

In Oslo one can apply to be a mentor at age 17 or older, and many used the opportunity to exchange some experience with older mentors. Photo: BCC

The Faith Foundation Binds the Youth Together

The mood is cheerful as the 200 young people have a cup of coffee in the break. They swap experiences, new plans are laid for the season and we ask one of the mentors what is behind this commitment.

– I love playing tennis, but of course it’s what we believe in that forms the basis for the fellowship we enjoy, says Renate Warhuus. She is one of the driving forces in the tennis group, and is active in youth club weekly. -The fact that the older youth got involved on my behalf when I was younger, was absolutely essential for the first years of my youth. I experienced a lot of care and warmth. And when we in our own lives, follow what we heard from the start here tonight, we will also be good role models for those we are with. This inspires me, and I hope that it can continue to inspire the young people I’m with in my leisure time.

Plans for the fall season is laid, and Renate Warhuus is looking forward to gather the tennisgroup again. Photo: BCC

Cheerful mood as 200 young people engage in the  different groups and discuss the nights valuable input to their work. Photo: BCC

We have previously written about the work being done in the BCC to motivate young people who want to be mentors in the work of care:

Care in Practice