Keep Youth Connected
by Kathye Hamm
In the past month, I have spent two weeks with youth from our churches. In June, I was at California Lutheran University for the Western States Youth Gathering; and in July, I was at Mt. Cross for Shalom camp –confirmation camp. This work is one of the favorite parts of my call – to be in these holy spaces where our young people gather and dive deeper into their faith, connect with one another and significant adults in their lives, and have just a lot of fun.
It is often a lament in our congregations that youth do not stay involved and connected after confirmation, or after high school. It is something many of us experience in our own congregations. When groups of adults gather, we often wonder how to keep our younger members connected to their faith communities.
A lot of smart people before me have said this, and I happen to agree – we keep them connected by connecting them. We invite the children and youth in our faith communities to be full members of their congregations. If you are not already, I encourage you to think about the gifts of the younger members of your congregation and wonder where they can be ‘plugged into’ and mentored. Can they be lectors or ushers in worship? How about assisting ministers or musicians or artists? What committees or task groups can they be invited to join? Do we know our young people enough to even answer this question?
I wonder what it would look like, if over the rest of the summer, some strategizing went on in our congregations about how to invite the youth and children in our congregations to be fully involved in the life of the community. Youth events and camp are important and vital to faith development – and FUN! – but when they leave these places and events, what places do they have in the communities that sent them off and receive them back? Like all of us, the young people in our midst are yearning to be seen and known, and as fellow disciples on the journey with Jesus, they have a lot to teach us, too!
Assistant to the Bishop
June 19, 2018
June 13, 2018