Youth Ministry Spotlight

waiting Christmas can be a very busy time in the life of the church. Energy is spent on rituals in worship, preparations with children to retell the birth story of Jesus, and so many unique traditions that are a part of marking this season special. We can so easily get caught up in the frenzy going on around us to prepare our church life and our home life for Christmas. What are we bringing to the Christmas season if it looks the same as what is going on everywhere else?

waiting September is like the January of the church calendar. Everything begins in a new way: new youth are introduced into the group, events begin again in a regular way, Sunday School resumes after the Summer break, and people seem ready to engage a regular routine again. Often those first few events in September are key to integrating new youth whether they are moving up from younger grades, are new to the church or are checking out youth group for the first time.

intergeneration Nothing we do in ministry with youth happens in a vacuum. We can listen, support and create space for youth to encounter God thinking that we are influencing the lives of youth. Ultimately our time with junior youth and youth is a short span of four or possibly six years of their lives. Parents, grandparents and guardians carry the most significant influence on the beliefs and spiritual lives of teens even though it may not feel like it at times.

waiting When I think about relevance, what comes to mind are concepts like, speaking to the current culture of youth, or being attentive to the pastoral care needs of youth as we encounter them today. When we intentionally consider the personal and spiritual needs of youth, and develope and adapt what we do and how we do it to meet those needs, we are well on our way to claiming to be relevant. We can lose our sense of relevancy when we find ourselves at a distance from the struggles, challenges and pain that youth experience.

summer camp The summer months are considered a break for many regular youth ministry events yet nurturing and formation is still happening in other ways. Some churches run their own day camp were youth are invited to test their skills and experiment taking on leadership roles. At camp, being attentive to God’s creation as well as relationships that develop with peers, nurtures an atmosphere of belonging and being open to God’s leading.

waiting Learning and service trips are wonderful opportunities to bond with youth and have those participating bond with each other. There is nothing like a shared experience of giving one’s time and energy to others to reduce uncomfortable social interactions within the group. girl fixing sink plumbingIt is helpful to prepare your group well before the trip so they are emotionally and spiritually prepared for what they will or could encounter.

waiting Some of us are better at embracing technology to connect with youth than others. Where do you start if you haven’t already? Are you utilizing social media to its fullest to connect with current or potential youth? Virtual community works well when used to supplement regular connections with youth and to reach out to those curious about connecting to the church.

waiting The period of adolescence has sometimes been described as a storm. The perfect conditions somehow align to create explosive episodes that can be triggered by the smallest action or slightest word. Where does all this rage come from? The stress of so much change and struggle can sometimes be directed at those they feel the closest to or people who are more vulnerable then themselves. The storm can happen at anytime or in any place. What do we do when we encounter the anger and frustration of a youth? How do we handle the storm? Find opportunities to unpack the issue and open up what is triggering the passionate reaction.

waiting Investing in intentional, unconditional relationships with youth, walking with them towards a fearless faith in Christ Jesus. This is the statement that will guide our year of discernment. We believe that just as Christ has been central to all we have done in the past, Christ will continue to accompany us and the Holy Spirit guide us and give us wisdom.

waiting Like any of us, youth also need to experience worshipping God that goes beyond Sunday morning. How are we inviting youth to take time to worship God in all parts of their lives? Discerning together with youth what is important for our worship and critically thinking through why we do what we do, will help everyone involved to understand what connects us to God in ways that feed our souls.


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