Much as I love the work I do, I really appreciate the odd Sunday through the year when I have no responsibilities and am free to attend another church.

I can listen to a sermon, instead of giving it. I can join in the hymns knowing that I'm not about to lead the congregation in prayer or share an insight from my week. I am exposed to different ways of worshipping, different ways of leading, different ways of interpreting the Bible. Most strikingly of all, I am exposed to different congregations.

Recently I visited a young, vibrant, independent city centre church. It was teeming with young adults and professionals. As I looked around the room I was amazed that almost everybody was under the age of 40. But despite the fact that many were students or just starting out in their careers they were all committed to that city centre church. They were willing to support it financially, give generously of their time and get involved in the different events that were happening throughout the week.

Loading article content

I then thought that for a bit of balance, and to experience something completely different, I should go to a morning service at St. Giles Cathedral. It was different in every way, from the highly structured form of the service, to the very ambiance of the space we worshipped in. But, the saddest difference was looking around the Cathedral and seeing lots of people enjoying themselves, but almost no-one under the age of 40.

I do not think that St. Giles is alone in this problem. Young adults who are still part of the Church of Scotland often speak about feeling isolated and alone. Some hold the dubious honour of being the only person in their congregation under the age of 40, or 50, or even 60.

For such young people, this coming weekend has been marked in their diaries for a long time as a chance to prove once and for all that they are not alone - that there are other young people active in the church.

This weekend, 130 young Christians aged between 17 and 25 from all over Scotland will meet together in Dundee for the National Youth Assembly, a weekend of worship, discussions, and chat. Some will come with friends or youth groups, others will come on their own.

There will be some there who have been several times, and there will be some there for the very first time. All will have the chance to state their opinion on the future of the church, and on the future of Scotland.

What they decide will not be binding on the church. Though meeting in the name of the Church, the Youth Assembly has no powers, which is why it is so important that congregations up and down the country get excited by what could come out from this gathering. The young people of the Church are hungry to have a voice and a say. They are excited by the prospect of discussing what the church could be, and what it can achieve. They are not going anywhere, but are instead seeking out new ways to be involved at every level in the Kirk.

It would be a mistake not to listen to their enthusiasm with open ears or to stop them leading where their passion takes them.

Therefore, I am pleading with the Church. Take these young people and their ideas seriously. The National Youth Assembly is not important merely because it is a meeting place for young Christians. In addition it is a melting pot from which wonderful insightful and brilliant ideas are born. They deserve to be heard.

As for me, I'll be there joining in the discussions. After seven years of training, a degree in theology and training placements in Edinburgh, Inverness, Amsterdam, Shetland and South Queensferry, I have been given permission to find my own congregation. Once ordained I will be the youngest minister in the Church of Scotland, but with the excitement that is already surrounding next weekend, I hope I won't be for long.