Youth are not just the church’s future—they’re also the church’s now. As a leader, volunteer, or church worker, your job is to remind youth that they’re loved by Jesus and their congregation. The following is an excerpt from Connected for Life: Essential Guide to Youth Ministry, which provides guidance, encouragement, and advice on leading a youth ministry that supports young adults in their faith for life.
It’s upon us again. The time when youth are scrambling to pack, leaders are double-checking transportation, and committees are reviewing who goes where and when. This summer, a buzz of excitement, an incoming swarm of matching backpacks, and the jokes, prayers, and songs of thousands of high schoolers are descending on the city of Houston for the LCMS Youth Gathering.
A pitch-black street familiar to me is illuminated by streetlights and the warm glow of headlights from early-riser commuters. I live alongside one of the major highways that serves as a corridor to three of the five boroughs of New York City. I find myself comforted on early mornings like this when I can sit, think, and listen to the lull of driving cars before the highway becomes a cacophony of honks and construction drilling. I do like the sound of cars and trucks, and as an urbanite I feel at home when I am certain there is a bustle around me.
Previously, I wrote about the veracity of Scripture being based on Jesus’ testimony that the Bible is God’s Word. Every instance in which Jesus refers to the Old Testament is marked by the presupposition that the account being referred to is both true and accurate. One example of this is Jesus’ reference to the miraculous story of Jonah being in the belly of the great fish for three days and nights as a historical reality (Matthew 12:40). Likewise, all assertions found in the New Testament are grounded in Christ’s teachings.
It was a beautiful day; the glory of creation was undeniable, and the fruit looked tempting … or at least it did after that simple but fatal question: “Did God really say …?”
With that discourse, Satan led humanity into a downward spiral of questioning and doubting the perfect and loving words of the Creator, who seeks nothing less than communion and harmony with His beloved children. The question that slithered out so many ages ago continues to echo throughout our fallen race and even within our Church.
If there is a spiritual struggle I’ve heard colleagues and coworkers raise again and again, it’s the struggle to maintain a disciplined prayer life. Perhaps it’s the busyness of our modern lives; perhaps it’s because this is an often-unseen aspect of our Christian walk in the fishbowl of professional ministry. It can be all too easy to fall into the habit of offering perfunctory prayers at prescribed times and hoping those we serve don’t catch on.
Have you ever wronged somebody? I mean truly wronged somebody. Maybe you yelled at co-workers, gossiped behind a friend’s back (who then found out), or even told blatant lies about someone you had never met. All of these are bad, sinful, but forgiveness is something that God gives us, both in His forgiveness of our sins and in our ability to forgive others.
The end of summer and the start of a new school year is a time of great transition. Youth are about to begin new classes and are meeting their teachers for the year. Some may be starting to participate in activities and sports. It’s a whirlwind season. It is a time that feels much like January 1; new goals are formed and strides toward them are being made.
When I started going to church at age 16, church was practically a foreign landscape to me. Having been raised by non-Christian, non-churchgoing parents, I didn’t really know what to expect, and I was terrified of somehow embarrassing myself in that “Christian judgment zone.”
This post is adapted from Connected for Life: Essential Guide to Youth Ministry and was written by A. J. Mastic.
Maybe serving in youth ministry is a new journey for you. Perhaps you trained for this—or maybe you’re a new volunteer and you’re wondering what you’ve gotten yourself into! No matter how you got to this point, what’s important is that as you take your first steps in youth ministry, you do so with an awareness of not only your skills, but your roles. Am I a teacher? chaperone? dodgeball referee? friend? mentor? A good understanding of your roles will help define your work and the nature of your relationships with the youth.