Youth Ministry is a part of the faith formation that begins the moment a child is baptized. Practicing faith in the home and taking part in the ministries and missions of the congregation are the keys to becoming Disciples of Christ. Faith needs fertile ground to grow and “is far more likely to take root in the rich relational soil of families, congregations, and mentor relationships where young people can see what faithful lives look like, and encounter the people who love them enacting a larger story of divine care and hope.” (Kenda Creasy Dean, Almost Christian: What the Faith of Our Teenagers Is Telling the American Church (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010), 11.) While Sunday School, Youth Group, Vacation Church School, and other learning opportunities are important, they cannot replace the single greatest influence on a child’s faith life – parental involvement. Children learn by example. Taking your child to church with you and including them in as many ministry activities as you can is crucial to their development as disciples of Christ. Faith is caught, not taught.All of us are called to be mentors to the youth in our Christian community. We must affirm their worth and invite them to participate with us in both service events and fellowship opportunities. The development of relationships within the church family is an important factor in how our children will grow in their faith lives. Studies show that “all kids need at least five non-family adults to love and know and nurture and care about the children, to help them successfully navigate childhood and adolescence, to grow into the people they have been created to be.” (Marilyn Sharpe, “The Gift of Church Family,” Search Institute)A number of opportunities are available to the youth of Messiah and the surrounding community. Some activities include:
- Milestone Ministries: One of the ways we affirm and encourage our youth is by celebrating the Milestones in their faith journey. It is our hope that in giving these Milestone gifts, those receiving them will be able to use them as they grow in faith and look back on them fondly over the years, cherishing the warm bond of church family and remembering how each one celebrates a special Milestone in their faith journey as they develop an ever-stronger and abiding love for Christ.
- Sunday School: Children age 2 through Grade 12 are invited to join us for Sunday Church School from 9:30-10:30 throughout the school year. Adult classes are also offered.
- Vacation Bible School is offered for one week each June for children age 4 through Grade 6.
- Confirmation Ministry: Beginning in Grade 6, youth are invited to take part in confirmation ministry. We are all called to discipleship in the covenant of our baptism, and as this year’s confirmation class gets underway, we are reminded of that. While part of confirmation training is to learn more about Christ, the ultimate goal is for the students to know Christ – and that it be their heart’s desire to follow Christ. Christianity is more than learning about one’s faith. It is a way of life altogether. Thus, catechetical ministry has as its goal discipleship.
- Youth and Family Activities: Bonds among church family are important, and Family Fun Nights are a great way to involve the entire Messiah family and build intergenerational relationships. People of all ages are encouraged to participate.
- Grades 6-12 Youth Group normally meets on the 4th Sunday each month, from 5:00-6:30 PM, offering a variety of activities for learning and fun.
- J.O.Y. – “Just Older Youth” – for non-confirmation youth in grades 7-12, offers youth a chance to get together for some caring conversation with their peers and an adult mentor. This group meets on 2nd Sundays from 5:00-7:00 PM.
- Youth Service Events: Our youth love to get involved in service events and enjoy meeting peers who share their commitment to Christ. While we encourage youth to join in all service opportunities offered to the congregation, a number of events geared specifically to the youth are also offered, including the 30-Hour Famine, the YouthEncounter retreat each January, and shopping for White Gifts, to name a few.