Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
What exactly is the purpose and function of youth ministry? Is it ministering to youth? Or is it ministering with youth? This question has been in the forefront of my mind recently. The way we as a congregation answer this question can have a drastic difference in how we approach youth ministry. Personally, I see youth ministry as ministry together with youth. I think the distinction between which preposition we use to understand youth ministry (or any ministry for that matter) makes all the difference in the world. Because ministry with a group of people implies a certain sense of mutuality, when we view ministry together in this manner, we build up a sense of belonging and growing together. We acknowledge that no one is a master of faith. All people have the potential to learn new things and grow in faith together. That is one of the core motivations behind Luther’s catechisms – that we are never done growing in faith; we are never done learning the catechism.
So imagine what ministry with youth looks like. It looks like people from all walks of life coming together to love and support each other in faith. It looks like youth and adults struggling with the tough questions of faith alongside each other, learning from each other and growing in faith together. Adults and youth support each other in fulfilling congregational vows during Baptism to help each child of God grow in faith. Ministry with youth supports a sense of mutuality and belonging that helps people remain in faith even during the tough times in life. Such a model of youth ministry lifts the task of helping a child of God grow in faith from their parents and professionals, and allows the church to pick up some of the load.
As the saying goes, “it takes a village to raise a child,” so it takes a church to raise a child of God, no matter how old (or young) that child of God is.
God’s peace be with you,