The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you. - Psalm 9:9-10
We live in a chaotic world! Things are always changing around us. Students cannot believe that I did not have a cell phone until after I graduated college. Email was a new when I went to college. My daughter will not know a world without iPads. The new social media craze will be different within a year. Are you suppose to be posting on MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Instragram or some on some other place? The times they are a changin'.
Our students are having to deal with all of these shifting targets. They are conditioned to deal with it, but they yearn for something that is consistent and stable. We all know that the only one that can completely fulfill this need is our Lord. Our Triune God is our solid rock and our refuge. He does not shift on us. His character is what it is and we can trust that it will not change. We can trust in his salvation through Jesus Christ and his strength to lead us through our life. Hallelujah!
How is your youth ministry conveying that our Lord is consistent and stable?
We need to give students a sense of consistency in our ministry. This is one of the beauties of the Anglican liturgy. The liturgy shows people that the Lord is consistent, because every time that someone comes into our worship they see the same worship. We need to model this in our youth ministries.
Do you have a structure that the students will know and absorb while they are in your ministry?
My youth ministry meetings begin with the students being welcomed, then an opening prayer, three worship songs, an open prayer time, one worship song, a Bible study, one last song, and a charge when they leave. The students know this and whenever it changes they start to complain. I have done this for six years and have not heard one complaint about it being the same. Our meeting is a rock in their shifting world. Even the college students come back to our ministry and they tell me it is so comforting to know that nothing has changed. They want and yearn for something that is consistent.
Now you may be saying that students want what is new and want things that change. There is a lot of change in the midst of the consistency of the meetings. There are new welcomes, prayers, songs, and passages. There are new retreats, camp locations, and new mission trip locations. Do not over think how much change the students want or think they need. Teach the students that consistency can be more important than change, because they will begin to see that their Lord and Savior is one that does not change and is consistent.
As you plan your programs, meetings, and events, consider the ways that we can subtly show the character of God to our students, while you tell them directly about it. They may not know that they are learning, but they will pick it up and own it. Use every aspect of your ministry to glorify God.
(The Rev. David Charney is Associate Rector at Christ Church Anglican in Atlanta and Canon for Youth Ministries in the Diocese of the South)