Effective Youth and Family Ministry is: Baptismal

Statement: Effective youth and family ministry focuses on the promises of the God who calls us uncondi- tionally into the relationship begun when we are claimed in the waters of baptism and lived out in the calling of our vocation.

Biblical Basis: “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”

- 1 Peter 2:9

Rationale: The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is slowly beginning to look more like a melting pot of humanity, less like a weekly reunion of people with Northern European ancestry. Along with the rich diversity of people sitting in the pews of our churches and gathering as youth groups and children's ministries comes a kaleidoscope of cultures and traditions, and an increasingly eclectic theology of who we are and how we see God at work in our midst.

While we celebrate the truth that God is at work in all Christian Churches, as Lutherans we center on the ministry of Word and Sacrament1. Sacramentally, we understand that our identity is woven into the promises received and gifts given in baptism. Youth and family ministry that is effective rotates around the promises of grace, forgiveness, eternal life, identity and community, and the gifts which through the Holy Spirit bring and sustain life to all.

This has absolutely nothing to do with us. It has everything to do with God, with God's love, mercy, and grace. God initiates the relationship. It is effective because of God's grace in Jesus!

First, as professionals and volunteers in youth and family ministry, we have the privilege of entering into the brokenness of life with young people, and to accompany them as they experience God’s grace, receive the gifts, and are restored in and through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Second, we enter into relationship with the young person, their family, and their entire support system, mak- ing a covenant together to become the village that literally raises this child. And so we accompany and support the ministry of parents by walking alongside them as they experience the joys and struggles of raising their young people. We provide resources, we teach the children, and we teach the parents how to be church together.

Finally, we represent the church which fully embraces and welcomes the young into the mission of God, and equips them to live out and to share the grace of the God who loves them first and foremost.

Our call is counter cultural. Many of these youth have been conditioned to believe that their value is defined by performance in the home, at school, at church, in relationships in every arena of their lives. And we remind them that they are justified not by what they do, but through the love and grace of God. Along with the body of Christ, they are all sinners...all saints...and all justified by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Our baptism as infants, children, youth, or adults makes us heirs of that promise.

How important is our baptism? Jesus’ final command in the book of Matthew is to "Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit." Equally important though is to remember that this command is wrapped inside a promise: “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matthew 28:19-20)

1 In this context, we speak of word and sacrament theologically, not vocationally. In other words, we are not speaking of ministry being done exclusively by those called to the ministry of word and sacrament: pastors. Rather, we refer to a holistic view of ministry centered on the Word of God and the sacraments both as life- giving.

Faith Lutheran Church - 155 Boyson Road, Marion, IA 52302 - 319.377.9700