School has started. So, what’s the critical issue to focus on this year? How about relationships? I’m not talking about boyfriend/girlfriend relationships. I’m talking about their relationship with God, their relationship with others within their church family (including other youth) and their relationship with their community.
Youth need to be able to have opportunities to grow their faith and build a stronger relationship with God. This can be designed by working with Youth programs and Sunday School lessons to make sure they have opportunities to question and explore.
Youth need to build relationships with members of the church. This means people old enough to be their grandparents as well as babies in the nursery. Understanding the faith journey experienced by others can have a big impact. Taking part in the church’s commitment to a newly baptized baby can reinforce what it means to be part of the church and remind them of the vows they took/will take when joining the church.
Youth need to get involved in the community, whether it’s a community service project or hosting an event at your church. They also need to see how the church interacts with the community and how what happens in the community impacts the church.
Youth leaders need to also make sure they are looking out for their own relationships, with all three listed above, but also with their own family. Sometimes, church leaders get so involved serving others that they forget time to take care of their own spiritual growth and/or they focus so much on their church family that they ignore their own family.
by Mark Whitaker
Youth & Young Adult Director and Communications Coordinator
Avondale United Methodist Church in Kansas City MO (North of the River)
Advisory Board for youTheology / Marketing Coordinator
Loving God, Loving Neighbor