With no shortage of opportunities to rebel, teenagersstill choose Jesus.
Let's not forget what youth ministry involves – the sparking of untapped potential, the awakening of spiritual life, support from a diverse community. Without a doubt, God sees this and rejoices.
Think of all the truth proclaimed, the wisdom excited, the comfort experienced and the steady growth. It's pure and virtuous. Teenagers, who are struggling to find out who they are, can find refuge in a youth ministry. That’s beautiful.
When a person hears about Jesus, and they are told to model him, the first question is -how? It's a valid question. How do I emulate an invisible God?
A fresh believer turns to their church for the answer. They begin to desperately scan left and right looking for some type of resemblance of Jesus. Looking for Jesus made manifest. When they find it, they begin to conceptualize this idea of Christ-likeness.
The beginnings of the reality of reflecting Christ on this earth, can come from the influence of a youth leader. It's amazing when you really think about it.
Learning emotional resilience
They don't teach this at school. Nobody is being taught how to identify their emotions, how to be positive, how to change their perspective. Yet, these life skills are essential.
At church, we actually teach emotional resilience indirectly. We preach about things like joy in the midst of a storm. We preach about endless hope because of who we serve. We preach about changing your perspective into something healthier.
It's deeply needed. When you are a teenager, your emotions have a tendency to govern you. The whole world crashes down on you when you are rejected or hurt by somebody.
Identifying, expressing and being comfortable with emotions are key skills. Youth ministry and church can contribute to the formation of these.
Healthy role models
"Choose your heroes, or your heroes will be chosen for you" - Russell Brand. This means if you don't choose your role models, society’s role models will be forced upon you without you noticing.
The role models presented at church starts with Jesus. A man who welcomed all. A deity who emptied himself and took the form of a servant.
The rolemodelsthat worldly culture chooses are rebellious. They are the rich and famous who live superficially.
Youth leaders fill this yearning for somebody to look up to and become desperately needed role models.
Identity is learnt from a mirror. It is learnt from seeing ourselves in something else. A musician will find their identity by watching artists perform. They watch a performance and think, I could do that. They see themselves in that mirror.
We learn identity through interacting in diverse communities. Youth ministry provides a space to do this. It provides mirrors to learn our spiritual identity.
I want to pray like that, I want to encourage like that, I want to evangelise like that. These resonating thoughts are the seeds of learnt identity.
A mirror from youth leaders, a mirror from peers, a mirror from the word of God,helps youth kids learn who they are.
At church we are told about a forgiving and empathetic God. Youth are given the opportunity to be vulnerable to their peers. And how do their peers respond? With prayers. Not jeers.
In schools around the world, children are being ridiculed for being weak. In God's house, children are receiving prayer, prayer filled with love, encouragement and hope.
An opportunity to prepare
Most crucially,youth ministry holds an opportunity to prepare. The transition from teenager to adult is not always smooth sailing. After all, independence can be tricky. Youth kids finish high school and gain access to a wide range of experiences.
With this, comes spiritual challenges from all directions. Youth Ministry helps to prepare, helps build skills and mentalities that are healthy.
What if our youth were truly ready and prepared?
What if all stayed committed to hearing God's voice day after day because it became an ingrained practice in their youth? What if youth kids grew to make disciples?
You just might witness the harvest of a beautiful ministry.
Roden Meares is a student studying mental health. He enjoys playing basketball, reading comics and going to the gym. He has a passion for evangelising and helping others in their faith through writing.
Roden Meares enjoys playing basketball, reading comics and going to the gym. He has a passion for evangelising and helping others in their faith through writing.
Roden’s previous articles can be viewed at https://www.pressserviceinternational.org/roden-meares.html