Thriving in the Church - Shaping Ministry to Youth, Young Adults, and Their Families, Part 4
Not only do we want to see young people enjoying the benefits of biblical fellowship together with their peers and families, but we also want to see them flourishing in the local church as contributors to its mission. We want young men and young women invested throughout the church, setting an example to believers “in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity” (1Tim.4:12). We want to see young people courageously stepping beyond their peer group to contribute to the local church’s ministries across generational lines. We want to see them discovering and utilizing their gifts in the church. That’s the thrust of our third vision pillar:
...Thriving in the Church: We want to help young people and their parents to make significant connections with the wider church body through the discovery, development, and use of their gifts, and by taking advantage of equipping and fellowship opportunities beyond the youth and young adult ministry.
“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love” (Eph.4:15-16).
“...we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them...” (Rom.12:5-6).
The local church grows as each part is working properly. Christian youth and young adults are as much “parts” of the church as adults. They are among “the many” who make up “tho one body in Christ.” They, too, need to be equipped to work properly so that the overal health of the church is strengthened. The more they will extend their time out beyond their peer group to serve the church and learn from older generations, the more clearly they will understand and develop their particular gifts. “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise” (Pr.13:20). The more young people have opportunity to utilize their gifts, the more satisfied they will be in the Giver of their gifts. The more satisfied they are in the Giver, the more glory He will get.
Paul Tripp says that “The goal of a person’s life is not to be a healthy individual; the goal is to be a person living in community with other people who are living in community with God!” He goes on to say that a child has “a moral responsibility for the people around him. He is called to love others as he does himself. Everything that child does will either express a submission to God’s call to community or a rejection of it.” (Age of Opportunity, 44).
We want to cultivate a conception of the church body for young people that extends beyond their peer group. We want to help them to love the church as the church, not the church as their peer group. We want them to understand and appreciate that they are “individually members one of another” with all the believing children, teens, 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s and on up in the church. While peer interaction is certainly legitimate and healthy, in and of itself, biblical principles of discipleship don’t envision youth and young adults discipling one another so much as they show older, wiser men and women discipling the younger.