For a little over a year, it has been a blessing to serve as the Young Adult and Student Pastor at Burlington Baptist Church. During this time, I have been able to get to work with so many wonderful people, play games with students into the night, eat a lot of pizza, and put a ton of miles on the van. Student and Young Adult ministry is a lot of fun, but it’s much more important than that – it’s about reaching generations with the Gospel.
As Americans, we live in a loud world that constantly competes for our attention. We want to fill every moment of our day with something – movies, games, TV shows, social media. With the prevalence of phones, tablets, and gaming systems in the hands of our students, there is always something to do, see, or read. From the moment the alarm goes off on their cell phone in the morning, until they set the alarm again at night, they are bombarded with the message of the world. CS Lewis called this type of distraction “The Kingdom of Noise” in his book The Screwtape Letters. The aim of this “Kingdom of Noise” is to distract us from the most important thing in life: The Word of God.
At the heart of the ministry of this church is a love for, and the study of, the Word of God. Throughout this year, the Student Ministry will continue to work through the Book of John verse by verse. Through this study we are seeking to understand the person of Jesus as He reveals himself through Scripture. Each week, through reading and discussion, we’ll wrestle with the question: “What do I believe about Jesus?” That’s a big, lifechanging question and it is the most important question any of us can answer.
Shane Pruitt, who serves as the National Next Gen Director for the North American Mission Board, recently posted on social media about the things we expect students to understand while in high school. Students learn and study things like algebra, geometry, physics, biology, world history, and literature, but so often we expect that the things of our faith like depravity, justification, sanctification, and repentance to be too deep for them. These concepts are central to our faith, and we should be taking the time to guide our students as they seek to understand them.
Often, student ministry falls into the trap of being more focused on self-help talks and encouragement than diving deep into Scripture. The upcoming generation doesn’t need more self-help talks, they have enough of that already. They need the Gospel. They need the story of God’s great rescue plan as it unfolds across all of Scripture. They need people who love them and care enough about them to work through the hard questions of life.
That’s where all the retreats, game nights, and trips come into student ministry. Everything we do is about establishing relationships with the young people of this church as we seek to break through the “Kingdom of Noise” and teach them the Word of God. Student ministry is about coming alongside the next generation and showing them what it means to be a follower of Christ. Student ministry is about raising up a godly generation of teachers, leaders, and pastors that will continue to spread the Gospel to the corners of the world.
Church, I would like to encourage you to be a part of reaching the next generation for the Gospel this upcoming year. First, I’d like to ask you to pray for three groups I minister to here at the church: the students (middle school and high school), the college and career (18-23) and the young adults (23-30). I’d also like to ask you to consider joining me in serving the next generation by becoming a teacher or small group leader. Come alongside me and pour into the lives of this next generation as we seek to reach the souls of young people in our area.
When I think of the importance of student ministry, I am constantly reminded of the book of Judges. Judges outlines a terrible time in Israel’s history that was defined by generational periods of those who followed God and those who rejected him. The final verse in the Book of Judges states: “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in their own eyes.” (Judges 21:25 ESV). We may live in a time where depravity continues to grow in our world and our country – but I shudder to think of what the world would become if everyone simply did what was right in their own eyes. It only takes one generation for a nation to reject the Word of God. Instead, let’s work together to raise up a generation that seeks to see Christ glorified in everything they do.