Youth ministry: Captured by an IdeaAugust 2012
by David Plant
As we continue to navigate the opportunities presented in our collegiate model, Redeemer’s Youth Ministry will again experience some logistical changes this fall (see the announcement in this email for the new schedule).
But first, let me share with you an idea that has captured my imagination. I hope it will capture yours, too. The role that “Youth Ministry” can play in the ecosystem of the church is an important one. If practiced faithfully, we can expect a multi-generational community that encourages families and friends to worship and serve alongside one another in the Gospel for decades. Notice, this vision has less to do with the temporary subculture of “teen ministry” so often found in and around the Church and more to do with three things:
First, we have families who are passionate about their children and understand how crucial their presence is in the life of an enduring city church. Second, it takes a shared vision from a diverse community. At Redeemer, “Youth Ministry” is comprised of parents, pastors, lay leaders (typically, “young” professionals) and students who partner together over years, to explore who Christ is and live out the gospel in our schools and neighborhoods. Third, it takes a shared city. Actually, it takes a shared love for a city that uniquely encourages families and leaders to remain here, while beckoning graduating students to return after college. Knowing that many of our students will return is exciting, because we will be able to seek the peace and renewal of NYC together.
The culmination of these three encourages us to prepare families for generations of life in the city. Imagine this next generation of “early twenty-something” professionals, continuing to walk alongside their now “thirty-something” lay leaders with over a decade of relational capital between them. That’s ten years of mature Christian fellowship and their not even 25 years old.
As parents, Susan and I look forward to the joy experiencing church with our son as he grows into an adult. Of course, in order to do that, we’ll need to continue to grow, as well, both in our relationship with God and in our relationship with one another. As he matures, his mother and I will need to embrace the parental roles for each age and stage of his life. Now we act as the dominant voice, functioning as both friend and judge. Then, however, we hope to function more as friend and mentor. Our evolving temperament and ability to support him in these ways will go along way towards our family continuing to worship and serve together.
A few years ago I couldn’t have imagined that a ministry to these students and their families could so effectively embody Redeemer’s vision for the city. And yet, the truth is the parents, pastors, leaders and students within the youth community are already experiencing the reality of this vision. It is for this reason we look forward to drawing closer to God in community with more and more families this year, and many more years to come.
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