Papua New Guinea: Mainstreaming Youth Leadership

In visiting congregations with youth ministries, Reuben Mete often ventures off the beaten paths. Photo: LWF/ M. Renaux
In visiting congregations with youth ministries, Reuben Mete often ventures off the beaten paths. Photo: LWF/ M. Renaux

Interview with Reuben Mete, the first National Youth Director

(LWI) – Reuben Mete treads new ground. He is the first National Youth Director in Papua New Guinea who was elected under the new criteria – him being younger than 30 years. In an interview with Lutheran World Information (LWI) he talks about the challenges in engaging youth in his church context and the rural society of his country.

How do you involve youth in church leadership?

Involving youth in church leadership has been very challenging for me as being the first National Youth Director within the youth age range of 24 -30 years. It will firstly have to come from creating our youth policy and tool kit guidelines of the process and requirements in appointing church leaders.

The issues, concerns and voices of youth are not always listened to. Many young participants also move out of the church, because being a youth leader is only possible as a volunteer and they are not getting paid.

Mainstreaming our youth participation and youth leadership is a way forward we are working on.

In your experience, what are the concerns and particular challengers for youth in PNG?

Youth in the ELC-PNG context means youth who are often unemployed and don’t receive education. Thus, many of the youth leaders have already passed the youth age of 30 and some do not want to quit their leadership to younger youths that are coming up.

The National Youth Desk which is the National Coordination body of ELCPNG youth ministry needs a better infrastructure and funds which is a challenge now due to the financial situation of the church.

Do youth engage in these questions? If so, how?

Yes; they mainly engage through Social media and informal meetings.

What does it mean for you to be part of the world wide Lutheran community?

We are still trying to be more engaged with the global programs. At the moment the internal issues and reorganisation of the church takes priority. Another point is that equal representation of youth in decision making needs to be improved.

What are your plans for commemorating the Reformation Anniversary?

We have an initiative called “PNG change makers”, where we identify, train and support 500 young Lutherans who have passion to bring changes to their communities. We want local people to provide local solutions to local challenges and problems.

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