Youth ministry, at its best, seeks not to introduce youth to the nice but unrealistic story of the gospel or to cultivate a Christian identity indistinguishable from popular notions of national or commercially manufactured identity, but engages youth as partners in the Kingdom of God, mobilizing the skills, practices, and attitudes to sustain a countercultural Christian faith beyond adolescence into adulthood.
So writes David White in Awakening Youth Discipleship. In this quotation, White indicates that youth ministry is not about creating people who will confirm to the status quo as mediated through society nor about presenting youth with a gospel that is romantic and impractical. Rather, it is about involving youth in a way that allows them to develop an enduring faith in which they can live in ways that are contrary to the flow of the culture, yet faithful to God. This means allowing them to be coworkers in the Kingdom of God with the concomitant behaviors. White’s words signal that we must empower our teenagers to wake up, take notice, and live. Wake up to who they are in God and to what God is calling them; Take notice of the world around them and the ways in which God is moving in the world and in their lives; Live into the fullness of life Jesus promises and they move into their call to join in God’s mission and live faithfully according to the values of the Kingdom rather than the values of the culture. This makes me think of Jesus’ ministry.
Jesus continually challenged people to wake up, take notice and live. The example I’ll choose is found in Mark 10:17-22. Verse 22 is sad. This man wanted to inherit eternal life. However, Jesus’ way required too much. He was content with keeping the commandments, but to take his wealth and hand it over to the poor? To give up his treasure now for treasure in heaven? To wake up to those around him and the kingdom or God? He preferred the status quo rather than the life Jesus offered. And yet, there are people who were able to follow Jesus’ way. Simon and Andrew did in Matthew 4:17-20, as did others.
How do you and can you empower your students to wake up, take notice, and live?
Loving God, Loving Neighbor