Our churches have a great responsibility before us, whether we realize it or not. Most of us look out at our congregations on Sunday morning and whether we worship 10 or 500, recognize that we have a lack of youth. Is this because we are not relevant? Could it be that we don’t offer the “right” style of music? Or could it just be that the youth just can’t find a place to fit in, let alone becoming a part of a community of faith? While none of us has the clear answers to these questions, we still need to wrestle with and work out a way for us, as the church to engage the youth in our community. Some of us just need to be reminded that we are not out of touch; we just need to tune in a little better.
I remember as a kid having a television with rabbit ears. We would turn it on and adjust the frequency control until the picture became clear enough to see; sometimes it was still snowy. But even when the picture wasn’t crystal clear, we could still see where the weather man was pointing. That television lasted us for 14 years, and every time we moved it to a new location, it just needed to be adjusted to get a clear picture. Many of us are the same with the youth. They are still kids who want love and direction. They are still trying to find their way and to seek the approval of responsible adults. We just need to tune in to the youth of our area and quit looking across the road at someone else; you are uniquely chosen right where you are located for the youth right there.
As you read the previous paragraph, it is possible the thought came to mind, “But we don’t know where any youth are to even invite to church.” The numbers don’t lie. According to the US Census in 2012, there are roughly 88,000 people in the nine counties that make up our district under the age of 18. The good news is you are not alone. Like the rest of us, we would love to be overflowing with youth. Don’t lose heart and do not stop praying, inviting, and expecting breakthroughs with the youth in your community.
This year as a district we are going to begin developing youth worker networks. In late February we will be providing two training opportunities for everything from starting a youth group from scratch in a church under 50 in attendance to reaching those kids that are hardest to get, 6th-8th graders!
I also want you to be aware of the conference opportunities that are available to the youth. Last year at annual conference we had a change in the approach to the youth. There was an orientation for the youth delegates, a special experiential worship service, and an anointing service at the close of conference. This year looks to be even better, so please look for the youth events. If you have questions look me up for more details.
I look forward to serving alongside you to lead, identify, and uplift the Next Generation of Leaders in the Shawnee Valley and beyond!
In His Service,
Pastor Todd Wallace, District NexGen Coordinator