“No lives ended—no lives begun,” that is my husband’s definition of a successful youth event. Of course, we all like our youth activities to begin and end with the same number of kids, but I think we can raise the bar a couple notches. The faith formation of our youth is a responsibility I take seriously. The experiences youth have with a faith community can be life-altering and life-saving.
Even though I am not on the front lines of youth ministry, I am responsible for designing worship that engages and values children and youth. I am responsible for preaching sermons that can be understood on some level by people of all ages. I am responsible for making sure the church budget adequately funds youth ministry. I am responsible for the nurture of safe space where a young person can express doubt, ask questions, and even disbelieve. I am responsible for learning the names of our youth and treating them with the same respect I treat adults. I am responsible for making sure the concerns of the youth are taken into consideration when decisions are made.
My hope is that our youth will know they have a home to come home to; a place where they will be received with love time and time again. My hope is that our youth, as they struggle with issues of identity and belonging, will know that they are beloved by God. My hope is that our youth will come to see scripture as a treasury of wisdom. My hope is that the path set by Jesus is the one they choose to follow. My hope is that they know I care.
I don’t always see outcomes. Occasionally, I get a piece of artwork created during worship or a big hug during the passing of the peace. It is enough to keep me going.
Dayna Kinkade is the senior pastor of First Christian Church of Orange, Orange, CA.