Youth, in general, are often called the “future of the Church.” I want to invite you to think about this statement in a new way for us at St. Paul. The youth at St. Paul will be the future of the Church AND they are currently a vital and integral part of this congregation. As you all know, I have been on staff here for over a year, beginning as an intern and then transitioning into the full-time Director of Youth Ministry. In that time, I have seen the St. Paul Youth transform, blossom, mold, shape, and change into who they are today. Fortunately, the growth will never stop. They are coming together as a group now, will take those relationships into their adult lives, and always have God at the center of it all.
This semester we have been focusing on what it takes to become a disciple of Jesus Christ. From learning different ways to read the Bible, exploring different biblical texts, learning how to pray in different ways, and creating authentic relationships, our youth are becoming strong disciples every day. You wouldn’t believe the number of them who have downloaded a Bible app and have daily readings sent to their phones. While getting them to read a paper bible could be a long shot, delving into scripture is at their fingertips all the time…and they are doing it!
We have spent a good part of this semester building bridges, too. Together, they decided to create a mentoring program with each other by having big/little siblings. They will meet with this person 10 minutes every Sunday to talk, check in, ask about life, and pray with each other. The Saturday Hangouts bring students from every age group together in a fellowship setting. We integrated prayer groups into our Sunday night rotation this semester. By bringing these groups together, they learn what it means to have covenant-style relationships. In our lessons, the students are asking crucial questions and having crucial conversations to understand who God is for them. The time we spend together on Sunday nights gives them the spiritual food necessary to be peacemakers in their own contexts.
Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God.” Kids don’t like to be still and quiet…until they actually do it. When they sit together, actively listening to what others share, they learn. When they pay attention in their lesson, they take it to heart. When they are able to quieten their minds and sing wholeheartedly in worship, they experience God. When they close their eyes, bow their heads, and communicate with God, they are given peace.
Next semester, we will continue with our discipleship theme by studying: anxiety and depression; how to be good stewards of our time, talents, and gifts; what the Bible says about controversial topics; and what clichés aren’t in the Bible (Adam Hamilton’s Half Truths).
I invite all of you to pray for the youth of St. Paul. Pray that they continue to grow and mold into the person that God is calling them to be. Pray that they experience God through worship, prayer, and interactions with their friends and family. Pray that they continue to make God a daily part of their journey. Finally, pray that God continues to bless their time at St. Paul and in the St. Paul Youth Group. We forever want this to be their church home, where they will always feel loved and encouraged.
By Hannah Burnett Director of Youth Ministries