Our Youth of Right Now
by Pastor Tim Feiertag | January 1, 2018“Let no one despise your youth, but set the believers an example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12
When I first arrived at Trinity Lutheran Church two years ago, one of the things that I loved about this place was this Bible passage posted in the youth room where I get to meet with our confirmation students. That passage stood out to me as a signal to Trinity’s youth that they have a valued place within this congregation. Trinity’s youth are NOT the future of the church. They are important members of this congregation right here and right now. Their youth is a gift to us, and they are invited to be leaders in this congregation’s mission and ministry. As was so clearly seen last month in our Christmas program, this congregation is blessed with an abundance of incredibly gifted young people!
That is why it is critical that Trinity Lutheran Church as a community is intentional in our support of the faith lives of our young people. We know that youth ministry at Trinity must be intergenerational—our youth must be integrated into the full life of this congregation, not siloed off in some separate track. Youth ministry at Trinity must be child-specific—we must learn about the specific gifts and interests each young person brings and find ways to connect that person with the mission and ministry of the congregation.
However, it is too easy to fall into the temptation of comparing our youth program with the youth programs of who we used to be at some point in our storied past. It is too easy to compare our youth program to congregations much larger than us. It can be hard to focus simply on who we are at this point in the life of this congregation and to know how God is inviting us to support the youth we have with the resources available to us.
Recently, God has seemed to be sending us a clear and energizing invitation. We have been connected with several other Lutheran churches in and around northern Snohomish County, all of whom are seeking ways to support their youth ministries in ways that are consistent with our ministries as smaller-sized congregations. Your congregational council and youth committee are excited about a proposal for Trinity to be one of the founding congregations for a local cooperative youth ministry. Because this is currently a new and developing proposal, the council members will be looking for ways to share this proposal with you, to seek your input, with the plan to bring a more specific proposal to our congregational meeting on Jan. 28.
This will not be an effort to farm out our youth ministry. Rather, this will create opportunities for our young people to gather regularly with youth of other nearby congregations. It will also provide us with resources for supporting our parents, our volunteers, and the congregation as a whole in caring for our youth.
“The Lord said, ‘Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, seeing that Abraham shall become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? No, for I have chosen him.’” Genesis 18:17-19a
Trinity Lutheran Church, I truly believe that God has blessed us with a strong youth ministry, not for us to hoard that blessing for ourselves, but to seek out ministry partners that together we may be more effective in the mission we have been given. I am confident that God is prepared to bless the entire world through us! Thanks be to God!