Leaving First Pres Church in Carson City was a tough thing to do, and the wonderful people in our youth group were a big reason why. I’m so proud of our kiddos, and I’m really thankful that God has provided such an amazing new leader for the youth group in Timothy P.
Youth ministry can be a great case study for thinking about the church – the gathered people of God – as a missional body. In other words, a youth group isn’t just about young people coming together and hanging out. Nor is it a “holding zone” for young people in the church. The fact that youth are always growing up and heading towards graduation (and possibly moving away) forces you to think about two really critical things: how will you reach the next generation and how you can help your oldest ones reach maturity in Christ to be faithful in their next phase of life?
When everything is going well, the older youth get to practice discipleship and apostolic “reaching out” to the new ones. Everyone has someone to look up to and someone to mentor. Graduation and the typical practice of going to school somewhere else can be a tough farewell but also an opportunity for sending out fledgling missionaries to college campuses, communities, and workplaces throughout the state and region and some times even farther.
Some really great things happened at summer camp this year that helped me see this kind of dynamic in action with the FPC youth. First, our oldest kids – who I remember very well as eighth graders themselves – are now in charge. They speak up in small groups. They help people get focused. They helped the younger kids have a good experience at camp. I couldn’t be more proud. Second, there were so many new middle schoolers! Our upcoming sixth and seventh graders did a fantastic job of inviting their friends to join them at Camp Zephyr. Just look at them all in the picture below!
Thank you, Jesus, for letting me be a part of these young people spending time in your Word and wrestling with life’s big questions.
So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. The one who plants and the one who waters have a common purpose, and each will receive wages according to the labor of each. For we are God’s servants, working together; you are God’s field, God’s building. 1 Corinthians 3:7-9