Is Your Youth Ministry Shaping Lives? Take Action!
Shaping Our Youth
Recently, I received a message from a pastor who was planning a memorial service for Ben (not his real name), a man who had been active in the youth program in my first church appointment. Ben had served his church faithfully into adulthood until terminal cancer ended his life at age 60. His pastor said he had been at peace in his death and had requested she convey to me his appreciation for helping shape his spiritual journey during his time in the youth program decades ago.
The next day, Ben’s best friend, also a member of the youth program 50 years earlier, called to reflect on those shared experiences. He and Ben had continued their friendship, were active in their churches, and enjoyed sharing stories about their participation in the church youth program. Many of the remembrances I had long forgotten, but they attributed to me some biblical phrases and stories, counsel about relationships, assurances about the value of their God-given lives, and the search a teen must move through to discern God’s calling for their lives. Although they had spent most of their adult lives living hundreds of miles apart, the early connection through their time in the youth program continued to nourish these two friends emotionally and spiritually.
Youth ministry is about planting seeds.
I had no idea of the impact at the time, but this experience has assured me that youth ministry is essential in the life of a faith community. A well-planned and financed youth program is a point of entry into the lives of teens, even if they are in families that are not officially related to the congregation. Combining efforts with other congregations, schools, civic organizations, and social services can enable your church to impact lives in life-changing ways–even 50 years into the future.
If one of the visions for your congregation is to bring young families into the church, this is your invitation to create the priorities that will make it happen. Vital ministries with youth require creative imagination, financial support, engaged adults, and deliberate action. Now may be the moment of God’s opening for you and your church to be instrumental in positively shaping young lives!