Effective Youth and Family Ministry is: Connected

Statement: Transformational ministry with young people connects their faith with the culture in which we live, and the world around us. Youth ministry leaders walk alongside young people as they use their faith to navigate the culture and serve in the world.

Biblical Basis: "He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.’" - Mark 16:15

Rationale: To be connected is to be in authentic relationship. To be connected is to walk in compassion and seek justice at every turn. To be connected is to recognize that those around us are also children of God; sometimes forgotten, cast aside and looked down upon. Ministry with young people must explore what it means to be connected, to be a part of the Body of Christ, in a real and inclusive way. The youth ministry leader is responsible for uncovering opportunities present in communities that help young people understand and engage their gifts to serve. It is not enough to build up “your group,” or even relationships within “your group.” Effective youth and family ministry looks to build connections with the world around them, that young people can witness to the hope-filled message of Jesus Christ.

Faith in Christ Jesus empowers believers to have the power to change lives. This power frees God’s people to effect positive change today, here on earth. Ministry with young people must explore this power in order to help them create a holistic life of faith. Frederick Buechner writes that “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep passions and the world’s deep hunger meet.”1 The faithful must understand their relationships, and their connectedness to others.

Simply put, all Christians live with the choice: we can allow ourselves to be effected by the culture in which we live, or we can choose to affect the culture in which we live. In reality, life is more complicated than this. These two extremes tend to overlap, and all God’s people live somewhere in the gray area in between. However, in the midst of this tension, God calls us to connect with each other, and with the world, and to allow our lives to witness to the living Christ. God calls us not to turn our backs on the culture,2 but to work within it, bringing the king- dom of God to wherever we go.

Romans 12:2 reminds us that we are not to conform but to be transformed so that we prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. We are first called to go into the world, to be with in relationship with people. Then we must tell the story of God in the world. This story-telling may be verbal, but in an incarnational ministry alongside young people, it can also be understood as action. This honors the context of young people and challenges all believers to re-imagine how one’s actions have the power to preach the Good News in ways that transform the world today to be Kingdom of God here on earth as it is in heaven.

In this way, being connected forces people to understand their role as being both with God, and with culture, rather than being apart. This is the model presented by Jesus in scripture. As youth ministry leaders, we practice being fully with our young people in order to help them understand their role to be fully engaged with the world and its culture.

Effective youth and family ministry is a web of connection that excludes no one, and which engages fully with the world in which God has called us to walk, as a witness to grace and love, manifest in Jesus Christ, who first connected with us.

1 Wishful Thinking: A Seeker’s ABC; Fredrick Buechner; 1993. 2 Christ and Culture; H. Richard Niebuhr; 1951.

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