By Anne Wilson
A notable Dallas pastor said, “The sin is in the pride that stops us from admitting that we don’t know everything, the arrogance that we must always be the teacher and not the student.”
Josiah was only 8 years old when he became king. Jeremiah was said to be around 16-20 when he began his ministry. Historians estimate that David was around the ages of 12-16 when he killed Goliath. All around us are “young people” from the ages of 12-20, but they are hardly children. God didn’t seem to mind that David was so young. And He also didn’t seem to think that Jeremiah being a “teenager” meant that he was incapable of great things for the Kingdom.
Last year, one of our students raised money at his local middle school for a non-profit called Active Water to build wells in Africa. Several went to visit with elderly in nursing homes. Students brought meals to couples with new babies, babysat for families that needed it at no charge, and served alongside many of our adults in our yearly effort to make our city a better place to live. All around us, the stereotype that “teenagers only care about themselves” diminishes, story by story.
And that is certainly the story in the churches all around us.
Here are a few things people may not know about students: they are not nearly as afraid of change as the rest of us. They jump at opportunities to serve something bigger than themselves. Through serving, students shift their thinking from observers at church, to active participants in the Church. Church no longer is something they “go to,” it becomes a part of who they are.
In Paul’s second letter to Timothy, he encourages him with these words,
“Let no one look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in your speech, conduct, love, faithfulness, and purity.” (1 Timothy 4:12)
Reggie Joiner asserts that the best way to stimulate faith in the young is to give students an opportunity to have a personal ministry by serving others.
So if you have yet to sit and let someone younger than you tell you their story, what they believe and why, and how God is shaping them, my friend, you are missing out.
And likewise, if you have yet to have someone older pour into your life, you have only heard half the story. Each one of us would benefit from stripping ourselves of the “pride of life”, and open our eyes to the ways God is working all around us . . . in young and old.
Kenda Dean, Professor of Youth, Church, and Culture at Princeton Theological Seminary, commented “Youth Ministry is a crystal ball: Wanna see the church in 20 yrs? Look at youth.”
Anne comes to us from the Northeast side of Indianapolis. She serves as the youth pastor at Chapel Rock Christian Church. She and her husband, Kyle, have been married for three years and are expecting their first child this January. Kyle, a Cincinnati native, is a Social Studies teacher at Covenant Christian High School. Together, they are passionate about helping students grow in authentic faith. Holding a degree in Biblical Studies and General Ministry from Cincinnati Christian University, Anne longs to help students build a framework to answer life’s hard questions. Outside of youth ministry, Anne spends time with her nose in a book, laughing at her husband, experimenting with new foods and restaurants, having coffee with close friends, laughing at her bulldog, and loving her family. Connect with Anne on twitter.