Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
Youth ministry is all about faith; our faith in God and having faith we are disciple youth into a deeper relationship with Christ. If you are like me though, there are those times when we don’t have confidence in what we hope for in our youth and there isn’t any assurance because of what we see let alone what we don’t see. So how do we work at creating a faith that lasts in the lives of our youth?
While there are many, let me suggest two ways I have seen youth’s faith being durable.
First is mission/service trips. Some might disagree but these trips are an opportunity for youth to get out of their comfort zone. It is there that they can see God working both in the little things and the big things that they don’t always recognize at home. In February of 2015 we took the Jr High group on a trip to Philadelphia. We were serving in homeless shelters, nursing homes, clothing banks and soup kitchens. Our “theme” for our trip was “love” since we were in the city of brotherly love. Our devotional on Sunday morning was from John 15:9-17. When we got to the place where we were serving, we set up for lunch before the worship service. The message was from the same passage as our devotional, which I thought was pretty cool. After we served lunch, the pastor shared with us about the ministry and that for the service he had planned on using another passage but sensed God leading him to the John passage. Our youth were able to recognize that it was God working in and through that situation. It is those kind of experiences that I believe create a faith that lasts. Youth being able to see God at work in their lives.
Second, is getting involved in the life the congregation. When we provide opportunities for youth to use their gifts I believe it is a way to build their faith. They can be part of a worship team, read scripture, preach, and help with VBS, etc. These opportunities allow the youth to experience the life of the church from a participatory view instead of an observing view. They have the opportunity to see God work in the lives of other people and allows adults to speak words of encouragement to them. I remember a “youth” Sunday when a youth from the community volunteered to preach. I had little faith that it was going to go well, but she shared from her heart and God used her to encourage the congregation. It also reminded me that God can and does use youth to increase our faith.
Creating a durable faith takes our willingness to give youth opportunities to use their gifts, to maybe even fail, and to experience the body of Christ in different ways. We are not always sure of what we see in the faith of our youth but have faith, their faith will grow and mature into a faith that lasts.
Dwight Rohrer serves as youth pastor of Neffsville Mennonite Church where he has served since 1999. He is also currently serving as interim youth pastor for Atlantic Coast Conference. He and his wife Jenny are parents of 4 children and they have one grandchild.