by Diane Maloney
In a world that is quick to post a picture, status, or tweet about every little action or thought, teenagers are so slow to express what they really believe about their faith. Most teenagers are not even sure of what they believe until they say it. At the Youth Ministry Academy, which took place January 7-9, 2016 in Nashville, Amanda Hontz Drury addressed youth workers and volunteers with this idea: teenagers (and Christians, in general) are not exactly sure of what they believe unless they are able to articulate it. If teenagers are not able to articulate what they really believe, then how will they live their faith after they leave the controlled space of youth ministry? Drury expressed that testimony is a necessity of spiritual development; additionally, she urges youth workers to look to creating an atmosphere of testimony in their youth ministries.
Drury likens learning the language of testimony in youth ministry to a foreign language. The best way to learn is through an immersion experience. In order for students to feel comfortable with this atmosphere of testimony, they must be immersed in the language. Youth pastors, leaders, and volunteers can create this immersion experience in some simple ways. Drury suggests a simple adjustment to the basic “highs and lows” or “happies and crappies.” Encourage students to answer, “Where did you sense God’s presence this week?” and “Where did you not sense God’s presence?” These simple steps over time can make a large difference in the faith of students. Creating an atmosphere of testimony will not happen overnight, but it will make a large impact in the faith of students over time.
Diane Maloney is a first-year graduate resident at the Center for Youth Ministry Training. She serves as the youth minister at First Presbyterian Church in Columbia, Tenn.