The Reason for our Existence:
To assist parents in developing their youth to become God-focused, Gospel-centered, spiritually discerning, mature followers of Jesus, who are characterized by a passionate love for God and a love for others – initiated by the Spirit and demonstrated through their love and commitment to the local church.
The fulfillment of this vision results in students who
* Are passionate for God and see all of life as worship.
* Recognize and embrace the liberating reality of God’s Supremacy in all things.
* Radically and joyfully and humbly surrender to the wise and good Lordship of Jesus.
* Engage in our church and our discipleship plan to love Jesus, love people, and help people to know and love Jesus
* Grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus in and through the Scriptures in order to perceive and oppose humanistic philosophies and lies, and distortions of reality that put man in the place of God.
There is no way we can do the above on our own. Only God can make our vision happen. Knowing this, how will we attempt to make this vision happen?
1. We will pray – HARD!
We will pray regularly and often that God will do a great work in the hearts and lives of our kids and their families. (Ezekiel 36:26; 2 Corinthians 4:4-6; John 6:44)
We recognize and rest upon the necessity of the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit for all of life and ministry, and so we are in complete dependence on the Spirit of God in this ministry.
God is the one who works and moves in a person’s life, “turning hearts of stone into hearts of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26), “removing scales from our eyes while shining His light into our hearts”, (2 Corinthians 4:4-6), “drawing us to Himself” (John 6:44). We will pray that God will in fact, do a great work in the hearts and lives of our kids and their families and our church. Even Jesus, while on earth, amidst the pressures and demands of ministry, spent significant time in prayer (Mark 1:35-39).
* We will seek people to pray specifically for youth events that take place throughout the year.
2. We will partner with parents and the church.
In the days of Moses, the people of Israel understood their role as parents. They knew their most important calling was to “impress upon their children” the Word of God. They were to talk about their faith and live it out daily. (Deut. 6:4-9) We do not do this in isolation but as partners meaningfully connected in a local church family. We as a youth ministry want to connect with the larger church family in the mutual discipleship and encouragement of the body of Christ. (Deuteronomy 31:12-13, 2 Timothy 3:14-17)
3. We will center on the Gospel aiming at heart change.
Our youth ministry is not designed to just entertain students or to keep them in the church until they grow up. This means we do not want programs designed to be “consumed,” but rather seen as opportunities to grow in love and faith in God, which spills over to loving others. Our goal is to meet kids wherever they are and then, help our teens grow and mature in the faith, so that in all things they will glorify God and find joy in following Jesus and focusing on others; not themselves.
4. We will unite lives in the church and not be a separate ministry of the church.
Jesus died to create a new humanity that images forth the image of Jesus in time and space in local churches. We believe that the local church is the primary means through with Jesus has determined to advance his kingdom on earth.
Therefore, we will plan with this emphasis in mind.
We believe that the years of transition from childhood to adulthood are not to be squandered in immaturity and rebellion. Psalm 144:12 says, “Let our sons in their youth be as grown up plants, and our daughters as corner pillars fashioned as for a palace.” (1 Timothy 4:12, 2 Timothy 2:22, Philippians 4:8-9). Young people must be growing in their understanding of God’s Word, able to handle it on their own. However, we do know just want them to have a biblical head knowledge, but to preach the gospel to the heart for true and lasting transformation, and show how the truths revealed to us in the Scriptures are truly good news. Thus, nurturing a true love for God in our teens is the first emphasis of our youth ministry.
The following is a list of some truths we believe are essential for teens to be grounded in:
A. The supremacy of God in all things
Principle: God is supreme in the universe. God is in ultimate control of the world. This is good news, because God is good, and wise, and desires our very best as his creatures made in his image.
B. Ultimate joy in life comes from God
Principle: God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him. God is the source of every good and perfect thing.
C. The Bible is trustworthy
God has revealed himself and ultimate reality to us in Jesus, in and through the Scriptures. We trust the Bible to be a revelation from God because Jesus said it is – and he rose from the dead, so that gives him some credibility!
D. Rightly reading the Bible
The Bible is first and foremost about Jesus – who he is and what he has done, and not about us and what we must do. We want our youth to not just know about Jesus – but to come to him that they might have life (John 5:39-40). We want our youth to understand the how the whole story of the Bible fits together. (See https://thegoodnewsstory.com )
E. Ultimate authority
Maximum freedom is found under God’s authority – submitting all of life to the Lordship of Jesus. Part of that submission, comes in joyful submission to the authorities that God has placed in our lives.
E. Authentic faith lived in a joyful life of love and humility
This comes in truly being satisfied with all that God promises to be for us in Jesus. Our desire is that genuine faith would be implanted and grow in maturing disciples who find their identity in Jesus – in the Gospel – as children of God (part of the family); as servants (having been graciously served by our Servant-King); as missionaries (ambassadors of Jesus 24/7).
To this end we seek to provide opportunities to learn the Scriptures to grow deeper in the Gospel, as well as equipping our youth to reach out in love, to minister to, and disciple others in the local church and beyond. We will encourage leadership, service, evangelism, and discipleship by stoking the fires of joyful passion in Jesus.
We want to develop a mindset that discipleship and evangelism is not a program, but a way of life. We will strive to show Jesus and plant seeds of Biblical truth among all our relationships, walking in such a way that others will see Jesus’ Spirit in us. God teaches us that we should be salt and light to the world (Matthew 5:13,14), do all we can to bring in lost sheep (Luke 15:4), and to be merciful to those who doubt and snatch people from the fire (Jude 22,23). This mindset should be taught, discussed, and modeled.
We will pray that they will be filled with compassion and mercy for those who do not know the love and grace of Jesus.
During the teen years, relationships with the entire church is very important. We want to see healthy friendships formed and strengthened during this season of life. Too often teens learn much about life from other teens. We want to expose our teens to those with more advanced insights, those who are more mature, and those possessing godly wisdom. Proverbs tells us that if you want to be wise, spend time with those who are wise.
To that end, we hope to have Gospel Communities make an effort to plan an event or gathering where the whole church is invited to come together with the youth to foster these relationships.
To foster an others-centered focus, we hope to have the youth organize opportunities to serve our church or community.
Recruiting Godly Leaders
In order to have an effective youth ministry, we need godly, spiritually contagious leaders who love people. Relationships with leaders are, in part, what helps a youth ministry flourish. We want to build a team of Gospel-centered people who have a passion for God, who possess gifts and abilities that will be joined together with others to love and minister to our youth.
The Apostle Paul knew about Christian formation when he wrote to the church at Ephesus,
“I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love.” Ephesians 3:16-17
Notice words like strengthened, rooted and grounded. Our prayer is that we will see Christ dwelling in the hearts of our teens through faith so that when these students leave home, they will be rooted and grounded in His love. And, when the storms of life blow their way, they will not be uprooted, but will flourish “like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers.” Psalm 1:3