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Winning the Next Generation to Christ

January 30, 2024
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At the last Fall clergy retreat, we heard a number from Canon Aaron Buttery which left a profound impact on our understanding of faith formation amongst youth. According to Canon Buttery, 93% of Christians became so before the age of 18. This statistic underscores our need to be in prayer for the next generation of youth, and to be strategic in our planning to win them to Christ. We—all baptized Christians—bear the joy of actively engaging youth and young adults with the Good News that is found only in Jesus Christ.

As a diocesan community, there are four main ministries with which we are attempting to reach this generation:

ARAMINTA, which is a summertime camp that focuses on five main essentials: Creation (reinforcing the fact that campers are made and loved by God), the Gospel (our fall and redemption brought through the Cross of Jesus), Community (how each camper’s gift can benefit the wider body), Holiness (living life in Christlikeness), and Mission (taking the Gospel into the world).

DYNAMOS is “an experience of Christ’s love presented for high school students by other high school student with the support and assistance of adult leaders and clergy.”  It is a weekend retreat that engages students through teachings about Jesus, growing in community, and challenging them to share the Good News that they have been reminded of (or have heard for the first time!). And since it is led by high school students, it is also an opportunity for experience in Christian leadership.

SOUL IN THE CITY empowers “teenagers to live a life of service to God and neighbor through the love of Christ.” You can think of it as part local mission trip, part summer camp for teenagers. Students engage the local community through acts of service during the day, and learning and worship in the evenings.

PETRA was founded to gather young adults. College and graduate students, young workers, and others ‘still finding their way’ are invited to find community and purpose in Jesus. While the focal point of this ministry remains the annual retreat for adults (aged approximately 18 – 25), we are in a season of prayerful discernment, seeking where the Lord might lead us to expand and deepen the impact of this ministry.

According to a Pew Research report, “most of those who decided to leave their childhood faith say they did so before reaching age 24.”[1] If we are serious about reaching Florida, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi with the transforming love of Jesus Christ, we must include reaching youth and young adults. You might be convinced of this mission already, and you are asking yourself right now, “what can I do to help?” I’m so glad you asked! There are three ways in which you can help to deepen and expand these ministries: your time, your talent, and your treasure.

Ways You Can Help

Time: First and foremost, we need prayer! Prayer is one of the fundamental ways in which we receive power for the tasks that are laid before us. Along with prayer, we need volunteers. We need mature Christians who are interested in investing the rich deposit of the Gospel into the lives of young people.

Talent: What unique skills do you have that would benefit the Kingdom as it relates to youth and young adults? Are you a good cook? Perhaps you can help out by making sure that our students are well-fed during retreats. Do you have an inclination for outdoor activities? Maybe you can share that passion with our summer campers. Whatever it is, we do it heartily, as unto the Lord – for His Glory and our good.

Treasure: Ministry takes money. We know that our Father owns the cattle on a thousand hills, and the primary way He shares His wealth is through us – the giving of compassionate people to the work of ministry. We do not ever want a young person to not benefit from any of the ministries above because he or she does not have the resources to go. If the Lord has given you a heart for giving financially to the work of the Gospel among youth, please give generously to this work. If you don’t feel a burden for this, pray about it!

Last thing – I have participated in many of the camps and retreats that we have coordinated as a diocese. I can tell you that I have personally seen lives changed, chains broken, and young people being set free by the power of the Gospel – I’ve seen, with my own eyes, many students start their discipleship journeys during these ministry sessions. There is a fire burning for the Lord in our youth and I want to see that deepen amongst them and spread to those who do not yet know Him. Will you join me in one or more of the ways that I outlined above? There were some who planted these ministries. We are now the ones who must water them. Let’s join together in watching God give the increase!