A Vision for Youth Ministry
I am struck by NMC’s mission statement, “Inviting, Engaging, and Equipping All Generations to be more like Jesus.” These words beautifully capture God’s desire for His church and our purpose here at Neffsville. As the Associate Pastor of Youth Ministry, my role is to help invite, engage, and equip the youth of Neffsville to be more like Jesus too.
How do we live into this mission when many of the youth are disconnected from the church, busy with sports and other extracurricular involvements, and lack the meaningful relationships that might draw them to the youth group?
Participating in these extracurricular involvements is a wonderful thing. God created us to play, run, and use our skills for His glory! These activities are also incredible ways for the youth to build relationships with those outside of the church. Therefore, we should support our youth in these endeavors, even if it means that we have to become more creative and flexible in our programming.
However, it is through meaningful relationships and a fun, safe community that we best learn about Jesus, His love for us, how to love Him back, and who we have been created to be. No one can expect to become more like Jesus without being known, loved, and challenged in a safe and welcoming environment. My hope and prayer is that Neffsville’s youth ministry becomes this space for our young people.
This starts with building relationships. I want every single youth to know that they are loved, desired, and accepted, exactly as they are. To communicate this message we must love them by investing in them, reaching out to them, including them in our lives and in the life of the church, and showing genuine interest in their lives. In this we follow Jesus’ words in Mark 9:37:
“Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”
These verses apply to our youth as well as our children. Welcoming our youth is not an option, but part of our calling as Christians. It is my responsibility as the youth pastor, and the church’s responsibility as the family of God, to love and welcome each of our youth as if they are our own. What a privilege!
As our youth are more included in the life of the church, they can begin building and rebuilding relationships with one another as well. Our very first opportunity for this community building will be the Youth Retreat hosted by the Atlantic Coast Conference (September 9 - 11). It is my prayer that this weekend of worship, learning, and fun together will foster connections between our students. It is these connections that will encourage them to join us in worship and gatherings at the church. This will require extra involvement and effort from us as a body as we build relationships amidst busy schedules but it is clear to me that Neffsville is up to the task. Thanks be to God!