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By:  Gogobe Mairi, United Church of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands
Paper presented at Papua New Guinea Mini-Conference on National Youth Service - Youth In National Development:  1996 conference proceedings

The entire paper will try to highlight the above theme from the Church perspective of Youth Development in our beautiful Nation. I also want to draw your attention that the content of the paper will be United Church oriented approach of Youth Development in PNG. The United Church Youth Development model will certainly depict any Churches approaches on the subject above. You are also reminded that there are certain degree of variation in Youth Development from Church to Church or Denomination to Denomination. This of course is basically due to both individual Church or Denomination's, Philosophy or Doctrines.

However, all in all the paper will certainly give you basic Church principles and practice in relation to Christian Youth Development in our multiple cultures, eight hundred different languages as well as so many traditional customs and norms. In addition the paper will also high light some genuine and basic issues that this form need to discuss and give serious considerations in the light of National Youth Development in our country.

The United Church comprises of nine Regions or Synod Districts. Eight of these Regions are in PNG and one in Solomon Islands. The Church Union took place in 1968. Since that time the Church has worked hard towards localisation. Where PNG and Solomon Islands nationals have replaced the overseas missionaries in most places. There are of course, still workers from overseas assisting in the financial administration, health, education and in pastoral work of the Church.

The United Church maintains close links with other churches through its membership on the PNG Council of Churches and Solomon Islands Christian Association, National Council of Evangelical Churches in PNG, Pacific Conference of Churches, World Council of Churches and Council for World Mission as well as through the inter church organisations such as the Churches Council of Media, Churches Education Council, Churches Medical Council, Kristen Media Production, Melanesian Institute and World Association of Christian Communication.

The United Church in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands is a full member of the World Council of Churches and also has agreed to recognise members and ministers of other churches and to work more closely with them, sharing our experiences, hopes and failures.


The government of the United Church is carried out through Local Church Meetings, Leaders Meetings, Circuit Meetings, Regional Synods, the Assembly of the Church and the officers of these bodies. Each body shall exercise such authority and functions as are given under the Constitution and Rules and Regulations. In making laws for its government, the United Church intends that each Meeting of the Church shall exercise such authority and freedom in accordance with the Rules and Regulations as is essential for the proper conduct of its affairs and good order of the whole church.




  1. At the Assembly level, the National and Regional interests are represented.
  2. At the Regional level, the Circuits and Provincial interests are represented.
  3. At the Circuit level, the Congregation and Community interests are represented.
  4. United Church Assembly is the final policy making body within the Church.
  5. Youth Committees are to assist the church to form and carry out its policy in Youth Fellowships.

Three main functions are to :-

  1. Review all aspects of youth work of the respective levels of the church and make recommendations.
  2. Be responsible to youth work planning and coordination, including youth leaders training in the respective levels of the Church.
  3. Represent the youth work at various levels of both the Government and the Church.


  1. A United Church Youth Fellowship Group is a means which the United Church uses for the purposes of giving our youths integral human development of the MIND, BODY AND SOUL.
  2. United Church believes in Christ Jesus as the source of wisdom and life. Therefore her youths are guided into the realisation of God's Lordship over His creation.
  3. United Church believes in servanthood, sacrifice and self-sufficiency, and she teaches that through youth programmes.
  4. United Church trusts and hopes that with the power of the Holy Spirit it will, through programmes, produce Christian and productive youths.


  1. Each Youth Fellowship is required :
    1. To have regular Christian fellowship meetings.
    2. To have regular Bible studies/Bible quizzes.
    3. To have regular Retreats, camping, conventions and outreaching.
    4. To encourage church worship attendance by members.
    5. To encourage the training in personal responsibility and discipline leading to Christian standard of behaviour and community service.
    6. To uphold the spirit of Christian faith, trust and love which leads to Christian academic, social, cultural and vocational development of each members.
  2. Each Youth Fellowship must work within the standard constitution produced and distributed by the Assembly Office.


The leaders and members of Youth Fellowships are expected :-

  1. To meet the Youth Fellowship objectives and to satisfy all programme requirements established by the United Church through the Assembly, Regions, Circuits and Congregations and the Youth Fellowship Meeting;
  2. To develop and maintain the Youth Fellowship as a body based on Christian values, attitudes and beliefs;
  3. To develop and maintain a closer relationship between the Congregation, Circuit and Region, and of the general community within which it operates;
  4. To develop and produce Christian leaders;
  5. To promote further development and acceptance of courses and programmes designed to :-
    1. Enable members to develop as fully as possible in every part of his/her life physically, mentally, spiritually and socially.
    2. Develop responsible and moral attitudes in members towards their work, people, environment and the society.
  6. To live a Christian life based on the teaching and life of the Lord Jesus Christ.


The concern about young people was repeatedly expressed by the discussion groups in all levels of the Church. As a result of Youth Ministry is a major priority. Particular attention is needed in Leadership training co-ordinating structures and financial support. Encouragement is given for programmes which lead to Integral Human Development of young people, through a variety of holistic activities. The overall aim of the programme is to encourage renewal and growth.

The United Church Youth Ministry places a very strong emphasis on three (3) major areas of youth functions :-

  1. Pastoral Functions.
  2. Professional Functions.
  3. Administrative Functions.

So the church develops the youth programmes basically based on major areas mentioned above in relation to both National and Provincial Government reform policies, functions and responsibilities.

  1. Pastoral Functions :
    1. Spiritual Help : The Youth Co-ordinator should aim to encourage and promote the spiritual growth and maturity of leaders and members of Youth Fellowship Groups. E.g.: By organising leader's fellowship, camps, retreats, etc. Leaders can only give their best, when they are at peace with themselves and others and see meaning, purpose and fulfilment in life and in their work.
    2. Visiting Youth Fellowship Groups : The Youth Co-ordinator should attempt to visit youth groups regularly in order to give leaders a chance to discuss their personal problems with them when they do not feel free to do so with their committee members or their patrons.
  2. Professional Functions :
    1. United Church Youth Objectives : The Youth Co-ordinator has the critical task of helping to clarify, develop and implement the Church Youth aims and objectives. This means preparing discussion papers, conference materials, seminars, week-end camps, workshops, discussion groups for the youth leaders and members.
    2. Assisting with Study Materials and Programmes : The Youth Co-ordinator should present new approaches and ideas to youth leaders. This means that he or she must be aware of the latest changes and developments in youths' programmes and directives.
    3. Meeting Other Youth Co-ordinators : The Youth Co-ordinator should meet regularly with other Youth Co-ordinators, youth leaders and youth committee members.
  3. Administrative Functions :
    1. Represent the Church : To act as the Church official representative in Youth Committees of the Government.
    2. Assist congregations by initiating, establishing and ensuring the smooth running of youth fellowship groups in his/her respective responsibility.
    3. Gather Information about the Youth Fellowship Groups : Collect and collate relevant information about Youth Fellowship groups.
    4. Complaints : Investigate complaints made against the Church Youth Groups and Committees. Presenting the Church's case wherever and whenever necessary.
    5. Correspondence : Maintain the necessary correspondence associated with these administrative functions.
    6. Supplies : Distribute supplies to Youth Fellowship Groups.
    7. Maintain efficiency in the office of the U/C Youth Co-ordinator. Proper filing system should be maintained.
    8. Preparing and submitting Annual Reports of the Youths' Work to the Assembly Youth Committee.


The United Church has approved five (5) year Skeleton Plan in 1993 Assembly Administrative Committee Meeting in Mendi - SHP.

Five Year Youth Skeleton Plan :

  1. Constitution or Policies :
    • interpretation.
    • execution.
    • making Amendment/Review.
  2. Professional and Spiritual Development :
    • training.
    • curriculum.
    • research.
    • implementation.
    • evaluation.
  3. Management Development :
    • administration.
    • supervision.
    • planning.
    • management.
    • operation.
  4. Communication Development :
    • line of Authority.
    • line of Communication.
    • skills.
    • maintenance.
  5. Evaluation :
    • objectives or Goals.
    • constitution or Policies.
    • operation.
    • planning.
    • methods.

However, very little was done in terms of training in year 1994 and 1995 due to lack of finance as well as heavy commitment in other areas of youth activities. This year (1996) Youth Office successfully launched the four (4) year Professional, Administrative and Spiritual Training Programmes and an Assembly Youth Desk Professional Development Plan for next four (4) years e..g.:

1996 Topic Organising Myself.


  • reflection on the demands of my youth work.
  • naming my main responsibilities in Youth Ministry.
  • reflection on my strengths and on areas I need to develop further. New knowledge and skills I would like to learn.
  • taking control of my work setting goals and priorities organising my time.

1997 Topic Taking Care of Myself

Subtopics: How do I care for myself in the following areas :

  • intellectual and academic development.
  • health and general physical well being.
  • social and emotional state.
  • religious and spiritual development.

1998 Topic Working with Others


  • communication.
  • dealing with conflict.
  • teamwork.
  • group skills and meetings.
  • problem solving.
  • helping others to develop personally and professionally.
  • helping others to deal with change in a positive way.

1999 Topic Planning for myself for when I return to work.

Subtopic: In the light of issues raised during the workshops, what action plan can I develop for the future

This year in May 27th - 31st, 1996 I have conducted a Regional Youth Workshop here in Port Moresby. The workshop was attended by all Regional Youth Coordinators in the Country. This year onwards the United Church will continue to maintain Youth Training Programme annually as per programmed.


  1. Youth and the Changing Society :

    After the era of Independence, new concept was introduced and injected into our society, both in economy and social aspect of life. Cash money was introduced, labour recruiting period began and education, schools were established. Children were taken away from their places and parents by administrators and missionaries and were put in boarding schools. They learned and had some fraction of formal education, got light jobs for monthly wages beside their rations and some even came home with bedding, radios, households and many other materials. The total attention of the community was drawn towards this wonder, the importance of the school education and the value of money and its uses.

    Many parents began to put their child to school hoping and trusting that their child one day bring home the desired things, but those dear parent's dreams ended in disaster. Another era began in which many people did not want. This was the era of school leavers drop-outs, which were and once produced by the country's education system. These created irregularities to occur in live of many parents the youths and the communities at large.

    These irregularities as seen included :

    1. Many parents deprived their children rights to education, especially girls;
    2. Parents no longer provided welfare for drop-outs;
    3. Migration to town and rural/urban centres increased;
    4. Abuse of the wantok system.

    These youths have no place to lay down especially in Port Moresby where there is already a problem of overcrowding at homes. Even though they make several attempts looking for jobs, they could no longer succeed because they are confronted with the sign, "SORI NOGAT WORK". Therefore, hopelessly in an attempt to survive, these young people use physical force to achieve something and as a result, the country at times has some Law and Order break downs. Negative youths are considered to be problematic resource by the public.

  2. The causes of these problems are :
    1. Children lacking early discipline by their parents;
    2. Children not motivated to Christian beliefs by parents;
    3. Breakdown in Family Planning;
    4. Raising children in towns;
    5. Allowing children to see TV;
    6. Children having access to comics, wrong magazines and access to other activities that will bring forth forward no fruit for eternity; and
    7. Children spending long hours in unnecessary places.
    The social control in changing society therefore are :
    1. Physical punishment of beating;
    2. Compensation - traditional wealth or labour form;
    3. Removal of valuables and assets; and
    4. Sentence to prison by courts.
  3. This is possible because we are in fact following the laws that are of a Foreign concept. Police sometimes are one step behind the criminals in some places. Every time police increases their tactics to cub lawlessness the youths do the same, increase their techniques and tactics.
  4. Current Issues Relating to Youth :

    Maybe we can now focus on the current youth related status taking examples in the PNG.

    The Major ones that can be summarised are :

    1. Great increase in youth population within that last ten years totalling to over 70 percentage of youths who are 30 years and under.
    2. An increase of school drop-outs who are more educated and more sophisticated than youths of 20 years ago.
    3. Increase in youth rural/urban drift.
    4. Decrease in employment (salary) opportunities.
    5. Increase in criminal activities etc.

    These issues can be seen as problems but they can also be termed as challenges that are faced by parents, community, churches and the government. It is a youth challenge to the old established government organisations and the traditional organisations. It is a challenge or a search for their identify, a search for their share in the national cake.

  5. The Way Ahead :

    How to facilitate and help to find a solution to this youth quest for identify from the proud wisdom and worthy customs of our ancestors; and the youth quest for sharing in the power that belongs to the people, and the youth quest for the sharing in the natural resources in our provinces and nation will rest entirely on our government states and churches or foreign assistance whether in kind or in finance will only be seen as the supplement either a National Government/Church Youth Programme.

    Peter at the transfiguration story, suggested to Jesus to build 3 small tents (Lk 9:33 - this seems to be a nice thought. But Peter forgot that the moment was not for him to act, but to be silent in order to absorb the fullness of God's glory in Christ thus to enable him to witness the gospel to the world with full understanding.

    This week has been a time for us together to share our thought to one another so as to build common understanding amongst young people in province and the nation. The pulling together of our mental, physical and spiritual resources in this conference is vitally important if we are to witness in our own context.

    The conference is a celebration of a youth ecumenical body, bring together Christian men and women from parts of PNG to affirm their faith in the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. Whilst it's the gathering of young people its also gathering together of common visions, aspiration and hopes by sharing them to one another as we gather to witness.

    Thomas, one of the 12 left the community from the upper room - trying to solve his hopelessness alone away from the fellowship (John 20:24-29). He withdrew from the community and sought loneliness rather than togetherness - so Thomas missed the first coming of Jesus.

    Young people of today cannot witness and give rise to their hopes for the future for better things to happen if there is no togetherness. Gathering and witnessing are part and parcel of the same thing because we cannot be real witnesses if there is no sense of belonging of one another - we must witness in solidarity of the world.


Let us conclude where we began :

The disciples locked behind doors - afraid of the Jewish authorities :-

  • aims and hopes for the future shattered.
  • powerless and discouraged.
  • uprooted as it were, insecure.
  • sense of unemployment.
  • confusion over leadership.
  • defeated by sorrow and despair with no future themselves and their families.

And the list can go on.

The above list can be for our young people of today as well - the same basic truth may very well apply in your context and situation:-.

  • dislocation of traditional family life.
  • school drop-outs.
  • unemployment.
  • social ills.
  • excluded from the decision - making.
  • oppressed in the system.
  • frustrated and insecure.
  • not given equal chance in the community.
  • living in fear.
  • hopeless and discouraged etc.
  • victims of injustice.

In the midst of all these both young and old, rich and poor, male and female have been called to affirm their faith in the gospel together. Through the spirit a new community is being gathered out of the dispersion and hospitality of nations of different races and religious and ages. We need to discover new and fresh ways of living and witnessing our universal calling - there is a need to act as one body.

Having drawn our attention to some of the issues raised in relation to youth and society, youth of the past and today, let us integrate them in the Church Principles on how we could tackle the problems. In so doing I have made an attempt to the following principles.

e) Programme Principles :

Principle 1 : Spiritual Commitment

This is aiming to make the youth full members of the Church. We want them to read the Bible and in so doing will make them come to love and know God. It is very vital that in this way we hope to strengthen their faith making them to believe that they are fully belonged to the church.

Principle 2 : Service

All Christians are called to serve and help one another. It is our aim and duty to see that our youth be filled with this desire to serve others in the community willingly and freely. Because they are full of hope, enthusiasm, energy, and have ideas that are available especially young people, because they are suited as leaders of service. Their talent needs to be directed into the proper areas of responsibility.

Principle 3 : Cooperation

By cooperation, we aim to encourage in our youth a love and respect for all people no matter what their colour, sex, religion, country, province they come from, or what ethnic groupings they belong. Most especially we want our youth to welcome youth of all Christian Churches.

Principle 4 : Community Awareness

Our youth have first hand experiences and knowledge of living in a community because the family and village life is community. Our youth therefore, must help to build up their community by bringing in spiritual values and also the making of village a better place to live in materially, by building their communities better communities, that all who lives in will enjoy its environment and people.

Principle 5 : Christian Leadership

To develop Christian Leaders is very important to any Church Policy Youth Group Leaders are to be trained and educated for the needs of our youth. The Youth Group Leader must be a Christian who has really chosen to follow Christ, he must know what is expected to him/her as a Leader, and must know where he can go to find information about the things he doesn't know.

Principle 6 : Christian Involvement

Youth should know that they have a part to play in the Lay Apostolate of the Church. They need to be educated to this. Youth need to be involved in activities favoured by the Church and to take part in Church social action, which will bring about a change towards a truly Christian Melanesian Society.

Principle 7 : Christian Values

Young people are entrusted to bring Christ to their friends. Bringing them to Christ could have given them a greater gift. With this in mind the youth should bring Christian values to all they do, this is economic development, political recreational and cultural activities.

It is up to this mini conference to really identify and develop a National Youth Service Action Plan which must be a cooperated with what the Churches, NGO's and other voluntary organisations have established. By doing this will certainly avoid same young people both in Urban and Rural are not unnecessarily confused, frustrated and over committed with so called youth activities.

The Churches urge the National Youth Service to established a mutual working relationship as well as maintain regular and close consultation with Churches and NGO's in order to maintain successfully achieve Youth Services in the Nation.

By:  Gogobe Mairi, United Church of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands
Paper presented at Papua New Guinea Mini-Conference on National Youth Service - Youth In National Development:  1996 conference proceedings

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