Finally, we emphasize the nurturing and serving function of Christian fellowship in the Church. The personal experience of faith is nourished by the worshiping. For Wesley there is no religion by t social religion, no holiness but social holiness. The communal forms of faith in the Wesleyan tradition not only promote personal growth; they also equip and mobilize us for mission and service to the world.
The outreach of the church springs from the working of the Spirit. As United Methodists, we respond to that working through connectional polity based upon mutual responsiveness and accountability. Connectional ties bind us together in faith and service in our global witness, enabling faith to become active in love and intensifying our desire for peace and justice in the world.
Today in this post we come to the completion of our blog series on “A Practical Look: Using the Wesleyan Distinctive Emphases in Youth Ministry.” Today our final post covers “The Nurture and Mission of the Church.” As we begin to think about the nurture and mission of the church let’s begin by understanding why the Church exists. Simply put the Church exists to be Christ’s representatives to a broken world and specific churches are called to meet the needs of their community in whatever ways they see fit. Recently I have been reading a lot about denominations and world religions because my High School Sunday School Class has been calling for studies on these two things. This week I was working on a lesson on Lutheranism and have been using Adam Hamilton’s “Christianity’s Family Tree” as a source of help. So as we talk about the church let’s look at a couple of passages:
Now you are coming to him as to a living stone. Even though this stone was rejected by humans, from God’s perspective it is chosen, valuable. 5 You yourselves are being built like living stones into a spiritual temple. You are being made into a holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2:4-5)
He gave some apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers. 12 His purpose was to equip God’s people for the work of serving and building up the body of Christ. (Ephesians 4:11-12)
13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its saltiness, how will it become salty again? It’s good for nothing except to be thrown away and trampled under people’s feet. 14 You are the light of the world. A city on top of a hill can’t be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a basket. Instead, they put it on top of a lampstand, and it shines on all who are in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before people, so they can see the good things you do and praise your Father who is in heaven.
Martin Luther and John Wesley in their earthly ministry talked many times about Faith and how Faith is an expression of what God is actively doing in our lives. They were passionate about the church and more so passionate about what the church could be and should be. A place where people are community with God and people and that through this community realize the call that God has placed on their lives and that they are not nothing, but really something!
The Church’s job is to help the community realize who they are…..a masterpiece made by the maker of heaven and earth. When they realize this truth then they become a part of the furthering creation process of love and grace in this broken world and to stand up for amongst injustice and project God’s love, grace, and call. The question is how can we do that for our youth in our ministries?
I have several ways that I have helped students along the years realize who they are and who they are called to be, but it’s important that now you think about what you have done. So what have you done to help your youth understand who they are and help them recognize their call?
The Church is a communal activity because that is how God designed it because that is how He designed us, to be in relationship. So, first and foremost you build relationships with your youth in your church. You find out what they like and dislike and anything. Sports? Movies? Books? Video Games? It’s all a part of the relationship building. What’s especially important about building relationships with teenagers is you gotta be all in. Don’t even think about faking this, they will see through that in a second. Really commit to learning about them because when you do that you unleash some greatness that God has built in them.
About 6 months I had a student that was on the edge of not coming anymore. I felt it. The Youth Ministry had been through a lot and he was losing hope in a youth minister staying and investing in him. Billy is an intelligent kid and he loves technology. So I got an idea. I offered to have him run the computer and sound during youth worship. It was amazing what happened. He was hooked and he came and still comes I hope because I listened and watched and I saw him and saw greatness in him. When I saw that it was unleashed. I have no idea the impact that made on him, but I know that if I hadn’t done that maybe he would have stayed, maybe he wouldn’t have.
It’s important to see your students and see what they can offer to the ministry, NOW! Not when they graduate or when they are in college. Now. They can be helping run their own student ministry now, but you have to offer it up. So, when you look or think about your youth what are some things that you don’t have to do and instead teach a youth to do them? Share down in the comments what ways you have invested in youth to be leaders now.
In closing the role of the church is and us as disciples is to:
- Extend Grace and help teach what grace looks and what it doesn’t. That grace meets us where we are, when we accept Jesus and live by His standards he justifies us and with each day we walk with him we are perfected by his love.
- That we respond to our salvation with faith in Jesus and expand that by doing good in all that we can at all the times and in all the places we can.
- Finally we as the church meet the needs where they are and extend love and grace at all times to all the world!
This is our standard. This is what we live by, and this is important for our teenagers to know. Let’s teach them.
Grace and Peace be with you always!
Bradley W. Alexander