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.
We are hearing from numerous youth ministers that during this season their plate is just too full. Caring for others is a ministry staple, but often it comes at the expense of caring for oneself. Self care for the Youth MInister is so important. If you don’t take time for yourself and your own relationship with God, not only will you suffer, but eventually your students will too.
We’ve created a Pandemic Youth Week curriculum bundle that combines elements of both a summer camp and a youth week. Many youth are missing out on both of these due to cancelled camps and trips among other cancelled important events your youth would usually attend. We’ve written this curriculum such that it can be used in person while socially distancing, online, or some combination of both.
Despite all the challenges the pandemic has presented to youth ministries, it has also created an opportunity to allow youth more involvement in worship. Although youth sunday will look very different this year, it is a great opportunity to empower our youth to be leaders. Youth’s comfort and familiarity with technology make them a great resource for churches who are seeking to move their worship services online for the first time.