While I do not normally use the church blog as a place to make specific pleas regarding ministry at our church, I am now because I think the formation of our children and youth is vital:
I’m excited about this year for a number of reasons, but one of the things that I am most excited about is youth. We have some really awesome youth who are a part of the youth group this year, from rising 6th graders who have been eagerly anticipating joining the group, to those who have returned after the summer, ready for a new year and a new start. We have a huge opportunity and responsibility to form our youth into disciples of Jesus, and this is a journey that we can’t make alone. In my time at Dunbar, we have struggled to move beyond fluff and superficial faith as a group into a deeper relationship with God. Some of this is due to preconceived expectations about what youth group is, some of this is due the busyness of our youth’s lives, some of this is due to a disconnect from the rest of our faith community, and some of this is due to a lack of a sense of cohesion and direction for the group. If we want to overcome these obstacles and help our youth become disciples of Jesus, then we have to work together as a team.
Here is my commitment to our youth: this year, I am going to spend a lot more time and effort in pushing them to go deeper. While we will still have fun, social activities along the way, we need to remember the “why” of what we are doing. That “why” is not to be a part of a club, the “why” is not to simply offer a safe alternative to idle time and mischievous minds, the “why” is not because having a youth group is a prescribed notion for our church. The “why” is because we want our youth to know and love Jesus and we want them to go on a life-long journey with him. EVERYTHING else is secondary to that primary “why.” My commitment to our youth is to keep that “why” at the forefront this year. My commitment is also to begin placing leadership upon the shoulders of some of our youth who are showing some characteristics of leadership.
Here is the commitment that they need from adults: they need parents to make their spiritual growth a priority. They need to be able to be here and be a part of the group. Sometimes that means sacrificing something in a busy schedule to reorder priorities. They need adults in this church to invest in their lives. That does not and cannot happen on Sunday mornings alone. In fact, many of our youth do not attend church here because their families do not attend church here or anywhere (yet). You are the only people who can help erase the disconnect between our youth and the rest of the church. Wednesday nights offer a wonderful opportunity for you to be present with our Middle School group (at 6 pm) or our High School group (at 7:15 pm). You do not need to know how to do anything to be present with us! Just be present! Engage! Share! Love! There are also other opportunities for you to help grow young disciples of Christ. We need more people willing to teach Sunday School if we are going to offer both Middle School and High School classes. We need adults who won’t shy away from responsibility due to lack of confidence or fear that they won’t know how to relate. Maybe you have that lack of confidence or fear, but you cannot let that get in the way of what is more important! We CANNOT truly grow as we are now. We need the team effort of this congregation to make disciples. Please hear the call that God is passionately shouting!
Here is the commitment I am asking of the youth: to be willing to go on a journey and to stick with things, even if it isn’t always “entertaining” or “fun.” I am asking them to be willing to think about the things that we experience and discuss. I am asking them to be active participants and I will be placing some legitimate responsibilities on their shoulders.
Let’s remember the “why” of youth ministry. This is not just my responsibility as the pastor that works with the youth. This belongs to all of us. Come with us on the journey. We will not get very far without you. You can talk with me about any of this at any time. Remember, the youth need you.