About two months into my tenure here, the rest of the Youth Staff and I worked with our Youth Council to redefine our mission, vision, values, and goals for the Youth Ministry. One of the things that experts in ministry had determined helped form healthier communities was having a mission statement everyone knew and was on board with. Naturally, we looked at ours:
Through faith in Jesus Christ, First United Methodist Church of Fort Worth youth ministry welcomes, empowers, and serves all youth and equips them with the qualities that will prepare them to go out and be God’s people in the world.
Well thought through, theologically sound . . . and rather stiff. It’s suited its purpose, defining the scope and purpose of the ministry, but as a rallying cry, it was lackluster.
I thought of the call and response benediction this church uses every week in traditional worship, and I wrote an alternate version:
Who are we? FUMCFW Youth Ministries!
Why are we here? To welcome, empower, serve, and equip each other!
To do what? To go out and be God’s people in the world!
Our youth have gotten rather attached to it. We meant it as a way for youth to learn the mission statement, but it’s become more of a benediction, and now most of them know it by heart.
Our theme for this school year is “Refresh,” reflecting all of the changes happening over in the Youth Ministry. As much as we’ll miss Andrew, we’re set up in a place where we can continue to grow into all that is in store for us. We have a new middle school space, a revised confirmation program that will bring up to 50 sixth-graders into the ministry in February, and SPRC is currently looking at staffing changes with an eye toward the future. As things are changing, we want to make sure that we are checked in with what our purpose is here and what it is we really exist to do.
Because of that, I will be using our third Sundays (every third Sunday, our volunteer teachers get a break and all middle and high school youth are put together for staff-led teaching and youth-led worship) to go through the questions of that mission statement.
This week is the first one, and maybe the easiest — who are we? I’ll be talking about who it is that youth are called to be in scripture (through the examples of Mary, Timothy, and 12-year-old Jesus); how that image highlights the unique and sacred role as disruptive and favored prophets given to teenagers and how it stands against the dismissive messages given to teenagers by our culture.
If you want to hear more about who we are as a Youth Ministry, and how we seek to engage teenagers in who it is that God calls them to be, I encourage you to talk to the youth in your life, to me, or to come hang out with us in the Justin sometime and see for yourself!