I have recently finished my first year as the Principal of Youthworks College, a college that specializes in training people for youth and children’s ministry.
What a privilege it has been to engage with a dedicated and energetic team, seeking to raise disciples for Christ with a special focus on young people. It has taken me back to my old school teaching days and also my own experiences seeking to engage children and young people with the gospel at church, camps and various missions.
As I begin writing for this blog more regularly, I intend to share some thoughts for your reflection and stimulation on a number of different aspects of youth and children’s ministry. I am hoping that this will be part of a larger and longer conversation we must have together as we consider the progress of the kingdom in Sydney, Australia and beyond.
There is no assumption here that we have all the answers. In fact much of what will appear here I think will be questions and ideas that have arisen as I have engaged with students and youth and children’s workers. And I’ll be reflecting on my own experience teaching children and youth in the context of Christian ministry and my earlier primary school experience.
Two broad convictions shape my reflections as they unfold:
The first is that ministry to youth and children is an essential part of our thinking about Christian ministry in whatever context we are engaged in that pursuit.
While this sounds blindingly obvious, my perception is that thinking about the practice of Christian ministry to children and youth is most likely taken for granted or at worst neglected and not a priority. Perhaps more on this in later reflections.
The second relates to the first, and it is simply the conviction that young people matter to God—now.
They are very much part of the people he sent his son to die for; they are very much a part of the royal priesthood and holy people he has called to himself. This is important to say because often when children and youth are spoken about it is in the context of them being “the church of the future”. Now of course, this is true but ministry to young people is not simply a matter of putting money in the bank for the future. It is important that young people are coming to faith and growing as disciples now.
Young people matter to God now and ought to figure in all our ministry thinking, whether it be our evangelistic strategies, church planting strategies, or discipleship programs. I hope that the reflections that follow over time will provide food for thought and action as we consider the wonder of our heavenly Father and his concern for young people now.
This blog was written by Dr Bill Salier: Bill is Principal of Youthworks College and Director of Theology.