On a plastic rocking horse in the church nursery, I discovered the pure joy and carefree delight of a faith community. In a boisterous youth group, the seeds of spiritual growth took root in my soul and refused to die even as I went off to college where God was purely optional. So, for me, children, youth, and family ministry have always been a top priority of the church and one reason I love Country Club Christian. We have consistently prioritized and invested ourselves in the faith formation of our young. They need us. My colleague Matt Vaughn recently shared these studies with me:
- Harvard’s School of Public Health recently found that young people who grow up in a church become happier adults (Harvard 2018).
- Studies that show youth and children’s ministries help young people become more faithful, experience better academic success, and reduce risky behavior with additional moral support (Univ. of Penn. 2007).
- Kids in a youth group are more likely to live a life of faith and less likely to experiment with drugs and alcohol (Baylor Univ. 2014).
But how do we build a thriving children’s and youth ministry in an era where our families, children and youth are pulled in many directions with academics, sports, the arts and more? It will take more than good hiring decisions. It will take a partnership between families and congregation to create the spiritual vitality that will empower our young people to become the whole persons God created them to be. In an age of social media and intense pressure on our kids to succeed academically and interpersonally, we are called to teach them the values of Jesus: grace, forgiveness, compassion for the poor, spiritual resilience, the capacity to love ourselves, one another and even our enemies. Our young people are fragile and God sends us to shape them.
We have engaged the services of a national agency, The Center for Youth Ministry Training, who will conduct an assessment and lead us through the search process of hiring the best leaders available for children and youth ministry. Our most recent staff members: April Booth, Rev. Catherine-Stark Corn and Rev. Tyler Heston gave us a solid theological and pastoral foundation upon which to build. The next step is up to all of us.
Grace and Peace,