Every year in January I have to make a year-in-review youth report for the annual business meeting. This year I decided that I would post it on the blog so that I could get your thoughts before I have to give to our church body next week. Here it is. Any ideas?
Chadron Berean Youth Ministry in 2005
Over the last semester, I have embarked on a challenging new adventure. Last August I read a short little book on the benefits of memorizing Scripture. And so I decided to start memorizing the book of Ephesians. Little did I know how this would impact my understanding of God and His church! In this amazing letter, the Apostle Paul writes to Gentile believers about God’s intention to build a community of diverse people that desire to bring glory to Jesus Christ. Just listen to this astounding statement in Ephesians 2:19-22.
“Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit” (NIV).
In the past, the Gentiles, for the most part, had been separated from the community of God’s people. They were isolated from the promises that God had made to Abraham, the forefather of the Jewish people. And yet now because of Jesus Christ, things had radically changed. His blood had brought them, who had once been far away, near to the very throne of God. Gentiles could now take full advantage of God’s covenant promises.
Seeing Paul’s passion for this diverse community of believers has been a great challenge for me. Shouldn’t this be our desire for the youth ministry at CBC? Here are some of the things that we have learned to value in our youth ministry this last year.
I can’t emphasized enough how important relationships are to teenagers. This is why I’ve spent so much time actually hanging out with students. Going to lunch, attending sporting events, jamming out, playing video games. Only as we build relationships with students will they realize that they can trust us with their real life issues. No relationship, no ministry. While I try to spend time with each student in our ministry, I realize that I can’t possibly relate to every student. That’s why I’m so grateful for the help of several different leaders over the course of the year. A big thanks goes out to Tyler and Tabatha Murphy, Kevin Neth, Brian Shafer, Zac Metz, Jenna Halouska, Dave Voltmer, Robert Hickey, John Schmidt, and Paula Peterson. These brave individuals have been a great help!
A Passion to Worship
Of course, in the long run, relationships have no value if they don’t bring honor to God. If, when all is said and done, students only have a relationship with me or with other youth leader, then we’ve tragically failed. Instead, we want to see students build a relationship with Jesus. Our desire is to give students a passion for God’s glory. This is the theological center for each Bible lesson, song, and activity that we plan. This last year it was a privilege to watch different students grow in their faith as we opened up God’s Word together. It is my firm conviction that since “faith comes by hearing of the Word of God,” students will only get to know God more intimately as the Bible is taught systematically. For middle school, this year we studied topics such as “Why Jesus?”, “Proverbs,” and “The Life of Elijah.” On Wednesday nights this semester, we went through the gospel of John, and now we’ve moved on to the book of Genesis. We even had the privilege of hearing Lianne Hespe share with us about intelligent design. In Sr. High Sunday School, last spring we looked at Hebrews, and this fall we’ve been working our way through Ephesians.
Community of Christ-followers
The more I learn about the book of Ephesians, the more I’m thoroughly impressed that this is what God wants for us as the youth ministry of CBC. We need to be a community of diverse people who desire to know God. I want students to know that, as we gather together, we are the temple of the Holy Spirit. God actually inhabits us! This should thrill our hearts and motivate us to action. It’s exciting to watch this community of young believers grow. Most of these students have no former church background. And yet God is doing amazing things in their lives. God-willing, we will build on that in the next year. Pray that we would submit to God as He continues to build His church out of all different sorts of people.