We are wrapping up our fourth week in crowd-sourcing a new direction in youth ministry. Start here and play along. This whole project concludes next week. Watch for an additional gift. Previous post: Our Kids Deserve Better
Young people need to be engaged by the Church of today, not just an investment toward the future. One of the clearest ways we can do this is during worship. In some settings, adult worship and youth ministry meet not concurrently, but separately because the young people are separated from the larger community. Saddleback Church recently committed to Worship Together Weekend, a weekend where junior high and high school services are cancelled, the youth building is closed, and families are encouraged to go to “big Church” together.
Saddleback Church’s idea is a great one, and it serves as just the beginning of many different creative options where the generations are merged, not separated. Short-term mission trips, longer-term commitment to service within the local community, scripture studies, and many other venues of Church life might not need to have simultaneous youth and adult programming, but might engaged in shared programming.
Yes, today’s cultural needs might make this more challenging than in previous years, but that is not the rational for the easy step of doing things the way we have always done them. By bringing together generations in Church more often, we have an opportunity for them to grow their faith, as well as share their faith with one another.
One situation that brings me great sadness when it comes to separation in the Church is the Sacrament of Confirmation. It is often held in a separate service from the whole faith community. It has even been suggested that this is done to accommodate others, and not make their time at worship as extended. We must change that, and celebrate these great things. The adult community should move beyond recognition of young people at graduations; after all, if all we do is say goodbye, why should we expect them back? We should come together to celebrate other life commitments, whether it is obtaining a driver’s license, a first job, baptisms, weddings, anniversaries, or their personal engagement in ministry roles of service such as the worshipping community, usher, choir, lector, etc. Let young people positively reflect on how their Church has been there with them through the thick and thin of things.
Think of how our young people have been raised with a constant Disney-infused refrain playing through their minds. Messages like the ones in High School Musical movies let us all know that “We’re All In This Together.” Woman or man, young or old, servant or free — we are all in this together.
Once we truly believe and accept that we are all stars made in the image of God, and see that we’re all in this together, we will better understand that love of neighbor is inseparable from love of God. This will show when “we stand hand in hand to make our dreams come true. “
Solutions to the world’s ills will not be resolved in individualistic heroic actions. Our world will change only when we join together because that is what ensures successful collaborations that connect in with the plan and design of our Creator.
Through our discipleship in the Lord, we have come to understand the promise of God’s love and our redemption. We have great news: no matter how unfair the world seems, God is with us, challenging us to be in the right relationship with one another. The life, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ is a sign to us that God joins along with us in singing “We are all in this together”. Together, we can come to the realization that our own faith and joy is not enough, but it clearly must become a community value.
Young people would welcome a Church in which they could call their family. They would celebrate it as home.
For Discussion: Is your parish youth ministry efforts aimed ay more “hellos” or “Goodbyes?” Does your parish youth experience more “Hellos” or ,more“Goodbyes?” Please comment below with your critique clarifications, and responses. <image source>