July note from Dri: Youth Philosophy

FPC's Youth Philosophy

If you were in worship service a few weeks ago, you heard our youth share about their MOVE Conference in Joplin. If you missed it, we ate a lot of watermelon, had a lot of fun, and learned a lot about how we experience some negative things, NEVERTHELESS, Jesus. Each day there was a new juxtaposition between things like we fail, nevertheless, Jesus is in us, or we feel disconnected, nevertheless Jesus is between us.

I (Dri) also shared our approach to youth ministry during that service, but we want to share that here as well! Our church’s mission statement is:

To glorify God by participating with Him in the transformation of our lives, the community of believers, and our world.

And our youth ministry doesn’t have a different mission statement. We’re all part of the same body, so we share this same mission. So, guided by our collective mission statement, our goal with youth ministry is to equip young people to glorify God, and to participate with God in the ongoing transformation of their lives, church and world. In other words, we want them to grow toward mature Christian Adulthood and become life-long disciples of Christ who impact the church and the world for Him.

In theory, this sounds really great, but how do we make sure we actually do that?
First, by valuing long-term discipleship over being big programming. Don’t get me wrong, we have programming, after all, that’s just a longer word for a plan, but the goal isn’t to have a really cool program that’s flashy and outrageous, it’s discipleship. We do have fun, because that’s one way we glorify and enjoy God, but were in it for the long haul.

Second, we do this by valuing relationships between our students and mature christian adults! It’s hard to become something if it’s not modeled for you. You, everyone reading this blog, are the key to this. Not only do we have amazing youth volunteers who spend time with our students, everyone in this congregation is encouraged and even admonished to get to know our students and share your faith with them. Over the coming years, we hope to provide as many “excuses,” as Mark DeVries calls them, as we can for students and mature Christians to spend time together, just doing life.

Third, we value middle school and high school students as an integral part of this body. Like I said, we don’t have a separate mission statement, we don’t have a special name, because we are part of the same body. They’re there in this service, participating alongside the adults. They’re even serving as acolytes and volunteers in the nursery, and in more ways as we expand their role.

Fourth, we recognize that parents are the primary spiritual influence in students’ lives and parents need our support and encouragement too! We aren’t trying to replace or compete with parents, but rather to equip them. So, parents, you can look forward to some tools and resources over the next couple of years as we endeavor to do this. Dri is part of the GenOn Parenting Project, that is a multi-year project with other churches all across the US, coming together to create and test out resources for parents in an intergenerational setting. We don’t know exactly what that looks like just yet, but we are excited to see where God leads.

Lastly, we value students building relationships with each other. Having strong peer relationships that encourage one another’s faith is an important part of the participation with God in transformation of their lives. As Proverbs 27:17 claims, iron sharpens iron, and students sharpen other students. Getting away together goes deeper than just an hour or two a week, so that’s why we make time for conferences like MOVE for the high schoolers, MIX for the middle schoolers in just a couple of weeks, retreats, and other activities that will give us extended time together. We are excited about this upcoming school year and all the ways our youth are going to grow with these guiding principles.

For more ways to engage teens at FPC, contact Dri Bayer.