As I study scripture and lean into some of my favorite Bible stories it is amazing to me to see how frequently God used teenagers to accomplish His mission. It’s been relatively eye-opening to me because for much of my life I had always envisioned the people God was using as adults. This could have stemmed from the adult looking flanelgraph cut outs that my Sunday school teachers used to tell Bible stories with or it could be the simple fact that adults were the ones telling me the stories so they must have been talking about other adults. As I have become an adult and studied scripture my eyes have been opened to the frequency in which God used teens, not adults to get the job done.
Here are several examples of what I’m referring to:
- Joseph was a teenager when he shared his dreams with his brothers and was sold into slavery.
- When David killed the bear and lion as a shepherd, let alone Goliath on the battlefield, was probably 15 or 16 years old.
- King Josiah was 18 or 19 when he assumed the throne.
- Some believe that Jeremiah was still a teenager when he started his prophetic ministry.
- Daniel and the faithful trio of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo were teenagers at the start of their ministries.
- Jumping to the New Testament, Timothy, Paul’s disciple, was a teenager.
- Mary was a young teenage girl when she had Jesus and then married Joseph.
- Not to mention, most of the Disciples, save Peter, were teenagers during the 3 year ministry of Jesus.
So to the question I posed in the title of this entry: Is your Youth Ministry central or peripheral in the life of your church? As best as I can tell, teenagers were central to God’s ministry plans throughout scripture. If God chose to use teenagers then why shouldn’t we view the teens within our ministries and churches as central to what God is trying to accomplish and not as peripheral, an afterthought, a necessary evil, a 50-some-year-old trend within the church…whatever?
I wonder what church would look like today if Adult Ministry was segmented out and Youth Ministry was central and primary to the life of a church? I’m not advocating that extreme of a pendulum swing, but isn’t that what we’ve already done in the church to the opposite extreme? We’ve made adults central and primary in most cases foresaking the youth in our church bodies.
Imagine with me what the Church could accomplish in this world, for the glory of God, if teenagers were viewed and treated as equals within the church and given similar opportunities as adults to lead and set the pace! Think of what might get done for the Kingdom of God if we took a lesson from God’s playbook and empowered teenagers to lead out in ministry and do radical things for the Kingdom.
What’s holding you back from developing a Youth Ministry model in your church in which you are empowering the teenagers God has placed in your care to lead and not to follow? This idea for Youth Ministry doesn’t have to be an idea at all, it can (and should) be a reality. Praise God for those of in Youth Ministry that are empowering your teens to lead! May God bless your efforts.