The Future of Our Churches

At the beginning of this month I was blessed to attend the Young Anglican Project and Rooted Conferences in Nashville, Tennessee. The Young Anglican Project is a group designed to help Anglican Youth Programs throughout the United States. The first day of the gathering we were fortunate enough to spend the day with Archbishop Foley Beach. Foley Beach++ spoke to us about the future of the ACNA. He said that future is our students. His desire is that the local Anglican Church will long for the youth of today. He told us to get out there and build relationships. Programming will only get you so far. You have to know your students. His exact words were, “Students spell love: T-I-M-E.” Listening to him speak about his childhood and getting to know him on a more personal level, reminded me why I love youth ministry. Our students just want someone to be real with them, and for us to know who they truly are. I don’t have to pull a rabbit out of my hat and entertain them. I just have to listen.
Later that day Foley Beach++ asked us what struggles we have in our ministries. Some spoke of parent involvement, community involvement, how do we instill a life of prayer in our students, and the fact that we have a small number of students in our youth groups. Others spoke of suicide, depression, gender confusion, and same-sex attraction. These are all problems that we are facing in some shape or form within our own groups. We also brought up areas where we were seeing success. Some of those areas where: students leading small groups, students having a heart for missions, and multi-generational relationships.
Then he asked, “How does your youth ministry fit into the overall ministry of the Church?” I sat with this question for a while. Then I looked at our service from the pew on a Sunday morning. I see some of our students serving in different rolls, for example music team and acolytes. Then I asked myself, is that enough? How do we instill a desire for our youth to not be an audience member, but an active participant on Sundays and beyond? The next question he asked was who are the people in your church that are being discerned to work with the youth? Who and what do these people that help us run our youth groups look like? Is our help multi-generational? What does support look like from the church? Foley Beach++ told us not to answer these questions ourselves, but to get support from our parish.
Youth ministry is a long road. It’s spending time in real conversation with our students. It’s meeting them where they are, not just expecting that they will always come to us. It’s answering the hard questions that we may not be ready for, but the Holy Spirit is. It’s honestly looking at how our youth ministry fits into the overall ministry of our church. It’s taking the time to show and teach them what it means to be Anglican. They are not just the kids in that other building who you see every so often. How can we achieve the goal that Foley Beach++ stated: that youth are the future of our churches? Can we have a multi-generational support system for our youth and Servants? I pray that we can. I pray we all desire to know our youth on a personal level and find them where they are.
Kim Harris
Kim has been a member of Servants for four years and is the Director for Children & Families. With her husband John she has three children: Jack, Kaycee, and Katelynne.

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