Part three of my reaction to the groundSWELL online conference focuses in on the idea of service. (Check out parts one and two from last week if you haven’t already.) The youth speaking shared the importance of having kids and youth involved in serving both in and outside the church. They were challenging the church to let them serve not just in little things but in big, meaningful ways… not just to light the candles on a Sunday morning, though that is important to them too, but also to be on boards and committees, to be doing things in which they get to interact with others and build those relationships talked about yesterday… to be the church of today not just the church of tomorrow.
This is something I’m extremely thankful for about First Trinity, that the youth are welcomed into the life of the whole church. I hear from our own students all the time what an impact that makes in their lives and I love to watch for more opportunities for that to happen. Hear now from some other teens who agree:
- “Serving takes you from GOING to church to BEING the church.”
- “As adults, people aren’t going to go to a church where they were shunned from helping when they were a teenager.”(This was in the context of trying to reach out to people who have been hurt by the church and then also trying to prevent people from leaving in the first place. The idea they shared was “If I wasn’t accepted and cared for in a church while a teenager, why might I be suddenly accepted there now?” So they stay away from anything related to church for that reason. By incorporating them into things at a young age, they see their value and stay connected.)
- In response to the question: What should the church do in the next 5 years to reach this generation of young people: “Have open doors not just on Sundays. [It’s important to have] a church that says, ‘We’re here if you want to pray, to serve, to be involved’.” This student went on to explain that the world offers them all kind of opportunities to be involved in negative situations, provide alternatives where church is a place we can come to “be poured into and pour into others” … to providing a healthy place to hang out as well as serve.
As I mentioned above and in a previous post, one of my favorite things about First Trinity is seeing children, youth, and young adults involved in serving… from a child proclaiming the Gospel on Christmas Eve, to a high schooler serving communion alongside adults, from a variety of ages represented in the worship band to intergenerational service projects. Having opportunities to serve not only helps kids and youth find their God-given gifts and purpose, but also connects them with adults who care and maybe share those same passions or gifts. As we heard about before, relationships are key and serving together would be an amazing way to build those relationships.