Cassie and I took a trip out to the East Coast in May of 2016. Among the many things that we did in those two weeks, we sought out a couple hikes along the Cabot Trail. One of those hikes, the longer one we did that day, was on Mt. Franey, which promised stunning views at the top of the hike. Unfortunately, due to the weather that day, upon our successful ascent to the top, we were rewarded with heavy fog. It seemed as though we were simply standing on a rock in the middle of a cloud… it was certainly damp enough to feel that way!
Sometimes, when beginning the year it can be hard to see through the fog to what we should be seeking to accomplish.
As we’ve been planning for this year, something that was very important to do was to revisit the vision and values of the ministry. In a sentence, what are we trying to do? What is the purpose of our Wednesday evenings? Or our Thursday evenings? Why do we go to events like IMPACT or Abundant Springs? Why do we go on mission trips every second year?
What we got to is: ‘To create a youth culture that says, “Yes,” to God.’
That becomes our answer to all the above questions.
Why do we get our junior youth together every Wednesday and our senior youth every Thursday? To build an environment that fosters ‘yes’ decisions towards God.
Why do we go to IMPACT or Abundant Springs? Why do we go on retreats? Because we believe that these events are special circumstances that allow for a special connection with God to be made. When we remove ourselves from our normal schedule, we have the chance to hear God just a little more clearly.
Why do we go on mission trips? Because we believe that in serving and sharing the Gospel, our youth have the opportunity to see God work in and through them as we reach out to others.
All of these things work together to create a concert of opportunities for all of us, leaders and youth, to say, ‘Yes,’ to God.
I suppose I should pause and clarify what I mean when I refer to ‘Yes’ decisions toward God.
This phrase comes from an understanding that every person can be found somewhere on a scale with reference to their relationship with God. Whether they currently find themselves on the far left of that scale where they would say that they don’t even think God exists, or if they find themselves on the far right, having believed in God all their life and have a life-giving and growing relationship with God, or if they’re somewhere in between, every person is regularly faced with situations where they need to say either ‘Yes,’ or ‘No,’ to God.
Perhaps a ‘Yes,’ decision for someone on the far left is to simply accept the existence of God. That’s an exciting step! Perhaps a ‘Yes,’ decision for someone more to the right of that scale is to realize that the faith they have in Christ has real implications for how they treat the people around them and they begin to volunteer at church… another exciting step!
The reality is that we’re all at different places in our faith, and that’s okay, but we don’t want to allow our ministry to allow people to stagnate! Rather, we seek to inspire one another to continue to grow and take the next step in the journey.
This sounds all well and good to say, that we’re going “To create a youth culture that says, ‘Yes,’ to God.” But how?
As leaders, we’ve decided to allow three core values to guide our decision making in planning out the ministry. They are as follows:
- Gospel Centred
The Gospel is preached in word and deed whenever we gather. Our lives are centred and oriented around the Cross.
- Community Oriented
We regularly meet to ‘do life’ together, encouraging one another to strive on in our faith. We are a safe community in which we can share struggles, pains and difficulties.
- Service Driven
We place others before ourselves as we serve one another and the community around us. We love others as ourselves by working to fulfill physical, emotional and spiritual needs in our community.
With every event, every weekend away, every mission trip meeting, with the mission trip itself, we’ll be reminding ourselves of these three values over and over as we try to live them out as leaders to model them to the youth.
These three values are core pieces of the Christian life which are a part of what make the Christian community distinct from its surroundings. Which is precisely why these three values are going to be the topics of our discussion this weekend at the senior youth retreat as we talk about what it means to ‘Stick Out’. It’s also why these three values are going to permeate our Bible studies in junior youth as we dive into our study of how God has been working through history to redeem his creation.
Today, as you read this, perhaps you’re being faced with a situation where you can say, “Yes,” to God in faith. I pray that you would make that “Yes” decision and that you would inspire others to join you in this journey.