Once upon a time I was a Youth Worker…
I am sitting at McDonald’s in Dunedin with a large cup of coffee. As I am on holiday and not allowed to think about work, I started to think about the past and the various ministries I have been involved in. And I think the greatest highlight was being involved with the young people at my home church of St. Peter’s.
We called ourselves Christ’s Ambassadors. It started off with a group of about 20+ people but then it grew and grew and grew. There have been many highlights in my 25 years of ministry but this is definitely one of my best moments. I often think back of that time with fond memories. Many of the youth from that ministry is now scattered in various continents but it pleases my heart to see many of them still following and serving Christ.
What made that time special?
1. There was a strong bond amongst the youth.
The youth was like a family. We did things together. We hung out as a group, went to the movies, spent time at each other’s homes, and did all sorts of things together. We took every opportunity to camp out at church. It was good fun. The leaders invested a lot of time with the young people. I have been reminded of many things we did in recent times on Facebook. I was reminded for example how I took the youth out for a meal when I got my first pay from the army. It couldn’t have been a big meal though as I would have only got $89 for that month. The bond I had with the youth was very special and I can’t think of anything else that has meant so much to me than that bond we had.
2. Young Adults led by example
One of the things we did was to place youth into life groups. That was the key part of our youth community. Life groups met weekly, usually after Sunday church. These groups were led by young adults. I think this kept many of our young adults connected with our church life as we did not have a young adults ministry. The young adults were connected to the youth ministry as leaders and mentors. I met with the young adults as a leadership team to pray and discuss issues faced in our ministry. Many of the youth back then still talk about the role these young adults played in their spiritual development. The young adults took their roles seriously and they spent a lot of quality time with the youth, walking with them through the ups and downs of life. We had older adults involved in the youth ministry and they acted as advisors. It was a great system that reaped massive spiritual rewards
3. Youth mentored youth
I still hold memories of popping to church and seeing youth meeting each other to pray and support each other through the different situations they were going through. This gave many of our young people confidence in helping and supporting each other as well as the confidence to be involved in various aspects of ministry.
4. There was a strong focus on prayer
I remember the number of all night prayers we would have at church. The youth set the example in corporate prayer. We often were in tears praying for the lost and for our unsaved families and friends. During the all night prayers, we would have a half-time break to pop into the local 7-11 for some snacks. I believe it was the result of prayer that our youth ministry grew and touched many young people’s lives.
5. There was a healthy balance of fun, fellowship and faith
We got the balance right. We had formal times of fun, fellowship and faith activities. We also had informal times of fun, fellowship and faith activities. It all became part of our life as a youth community. Today I look at a number of these youth, who now have families of their own, and I feel a strong love for them as well as pride to see them being the people God has called them to be.
To all the youth from my past, I am proud of you and I pray that God will continue to bless your lives richly.