Preface: This is the first part in a continuing series. I have been a volunteer in youth ministry for four years and a “professional” for less than a year. I am certainly no expert. During the past several months of my DCE internship, I have been writing a list, entitled “What I Want My Youth Group Kids To Know”. Here is the first installment of my list.
The children and youth in our congregations are not the future of the Church.
Youth, you are the present of the Church. Your opinions make a difference now. You will continue to influence the Church throughout your lives. You are part of a changing culture, and I expect you to change our culture for the better.
- Tired of Christians being labeled as judgmental? Openly love people.
- Tired of being disregarded because of your age? Speak up, and speak clearly.
- Tired of teenage stereotypes and assumptions? Break the mold.
- Tired of being referred to as “the future of the Church”? Share your stories.
Read this, and take these words to heart:
Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.
(1 Timothy 4:12)
Set an example for the believers.
It does not say, “Set an example for the children.” Or, “Set an example for those younger than you.” Or, “Set an example for future generations.”
Set an example for the believers. The believers of all ages, all races, all backgrounds.
You are the present and the future of the Church. You matter now.
Several weeks ago, one of my sweet girls told me that when we met at the beginning of my internship, she worried about making a good first impression. I was absolutely floored. When I asked why this had troubled her, she looked down at the floor sheepishly and replied, “I thought that you would judge me.”
I worried about the exact same thing in high school. Becky Krentz, my DCE, worked alongside my dad, and I was convinced that she would never see me in the same light after hearing stories of my sinfulness and poor decisions. I finally asked her if this was true, and her response has been emblazoned in my memory ever since:
“Why would I judge you for sinning differently than me?”
To this sweet girl and all of my sweet students out there, I will do my best to never judge you. I will not always agree with your decisions, but you will not always agree with my decisions either. We may struggle with different sins, but we all deserve eternal damnation as the consequence of our sins. We may have different names, we may be different ages, we may come from different backgrounds, but we all have been saved by Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. We all have been given eternal life.
As I continue to learn not to judge, my prayer is that you will change the cold climate of the Church. Become models of Christ and His great love for all people.
Here is a sad truth:
I will fail you.
Here is a wonderful truth:
I will try my best to be the hands and feet of Jesus in your lives. I love listening to your stories, your highs and lows of the week, your anecdotes, your ponderings. You are on my heart and my mind.
I want you to know that I am not perfect. I want you to know that people in ministry struggle and whine and fight. I want you to know that despite the struggling and whining and fighting, this is the best job. This is the best job because of you.
You make this job worth it.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Read those words again.
If there is one thing that you learn during your time in junior high and/or high school ministry, it is those words. Nothing is able to separate you from the love of your Creator, your Savior, your Friend. Nothing. Nothing that I can say or write will ever top this message. I will do my very best, but remember this: Jesus is better.