Youth Ministry

As apostle Paul neared the end of his life, he took up his pen and wrote to a dear disciple. It would be his last letter. He had an urgent request. Timothy, “Do your best to come to me soon. . . Do your best to come before winter” (2 Tim 4:9, 21a).

Paul not only wanted to see Timothy but desperately wanted his friend to bring him a warm coat, his books, and his parchments (2 Tim 4:13). In all likelihood, the books Paul desired were his copies of Old Testament writings. The parchments may have contained Paul’s study notes. Paul knew which three items he would choose in a survival situation whether on a deserted island or in a Roman Prison.

Though we cannot be sure what those books or parchments contained, we know that Paul was living out what he had been teaching to his pupil: The Word of God is to be treasured. It is to be taught, and it is to be lived. And Timothy, unlike the false teachers of his day, was a good student who emulated his teacher in word and deed (2 Tim 4:10-11). In the increasing hostility to Christianity in the first century, Timothy was both commended and reminded by Paul:

“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus”
(2 Tim 3:14-15).

Paul’s statement is remarkable. The “sacred writings” (that is the Old Testament) are able to make a person wise unto salvation “through faith in Christ Jesus.” Scripture, from beginning to end, points to Christ and is powerful to convert hearts, producing faith in Jesus.

Timothy had been groomed from childhood on the Bible. The instruction of his Christian mother and grandmother were not in vain (2 Tim 1:5). His growth in Christ continued as an adult as he heeded, emulated, and practiced the witness of Paul, his father in the faith.

We must remember that the Scripture we teach is powerful and effective. It takes root and produces change. We must also remember that discipleship involves a community and is a long term project. What’s at stake? Souls who, like Timothy, would grow up to live, defend, and proclaim the truth when we’re gone.

 

At the Hub this year, our kids are embarking on a discovery of foundational Christian truths. At the core of doctrine stands the Scripture, the barometer of truth. The Bible comes from God himself through the prophets. It is sufficient in its scope and effective to save and sanctify us.

As imperative as it is to believe in the certainty of God’s Word, there’s much more. God’s word changes its hearers and is meant to be taught by people who have personally experienced this change.

It’s always better to hear about the Bible’s transforming power from someone who knows it first hand than to be sold a bill of goods from hucksters, charlatans, and profiteers. The book of 1 Thessalonians illustrates the link between the potent truth of God’s word and its delivery by noticeably changed men. Paul reminds the church of this.

“For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.”

Then he adds,

“You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake” (1Thess. 1:4-5).

Thessalonica was a bustling port city on the beautiful Adriatic Sea. At the crossroads of four major roads, it was commercial, it was cosmopolitan, it was controversial. And it wasn’t Christian.
When Paul and his outlaw band of missionaries came into town, they met with many difficulties, yet they toiled with the gentle love of a parent, ready to share not only their message but their lives.

“But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us” (1 Thess. 2:7-8).

This new generation needs to be exposed consistently to a people whose lifestyle, words and character match the message they proclaim. Even in our imperfections and our sin. Are we patient and full of grace, forgiving and quick to repent, gentle in times of hostility? Do our affections for souls drive us to toil for their good?

One Thursday evening about the middle of last year, Richard K. and I were doing some team building games with the Hub kids. One of the younger kids wanted something else to do so I helped him find crayons and paper. I was dimly aware of Richard’s voice in the background, but I wasn’t really listening until I turned around and saw that he had shown the kids how to make a simple catapult out of the rope we had been using. I heard him shout, “Pull!” Then two of the girls and my son, holding opposite ends of the rope, pulled away from the center and launched a fourth youngster across the room.

All this to say, it is time once again for what is fast becoming my favorite hour at the church: The Hub. If you want to know what is new and important in the Hub this year and the superstar volunteers who are helping make it happen, then keep reading.

The Hub is moving to Wednesdays,
and the start time is moving to 6 pm.

Wednesday seemed to be a better evening for many people, and the earlier start time is not for the sake of lengthening the Hub, but for the sake of ending the evening a little earlier for our families.

Also new this fall, there will be no more sneaking in through the hallway entrance. Delilah will be outside the main entrance serving coffee and Italian sodas and snacks. Have a drink, chat with some folks. As you do, you may hear the Worship Band warming up. Wednesday is their rehearsal night.

Conflict? you ask. Not at all. They’ll work up one or two songs, and at about 6:15 or so we’ll move into the sanctuary and sing together for a few minutes. At 6:30 the band will keep rehearsing, but the rest of us will move on to our classes.

Pastor Matt will be teaching the adults in the Library. Crux Youth Group will be upstairs with stalwart leaders Austin and Breann, and the Hub kids will be back in the fellowship hall. Pastor Matt will resume his series on Culture Questions, and Heath Jarrett will be teaching our Crux kids from Colossians about who Christ is and the application of Christian living.

Our Hub kids will learn about the foundational doctrines of the Christian faith until about 7:00 pm. While they’re diving into the word, Joe and Michele will reprise their roles as snack providers. Then Austin and Meredith will get the kids running around and laughing with games.

Unlike last year, all classes will end at 7:30 pm, giving our families the chance to head home a little earlier. We hope you will make a place in the middle of your weeks this fall to connect and grow in grace and the knowledge of the Lord together.

The Hub re-starts on Wednesday, September 6

A battle continues to intensify in our culture over a central and fundamental Christian issue: who is man? At Crux this year (the high school ministry of the Hub), the students and I have spent a good part of our time exploring the early chapters of Genesis to answer this question from a biblical worldview.

The biggest debates today are often related to biblical anthropology: race, abortion, euthanasia, marriage, gender, sexuality. Our view of man affects our position on each of these points.

At Crux we’ve looked at humanity’s equality in creation (we are all made in the image of God), humanity’s equality in condemnation (for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God), and Christians’ equality in Christ (male, female, Jew, Greek, young, old).

The concepts of marriage and gender have already been given new definitions. While the culture increasingly views the identity of man as plastic and moldable, the bedrock of truth never changes. Genesis is foundational; it’s critical. And we have heard crystal clear its message of who we are.

We have put our thinking caps on and scrutinized atheistic worldviews on our origins according to the Bible’s teaching. The answers are obvious and I want the students to see these for themselves, to own them.

Scripture definitively answers the longings of the human heart—where we come from, who we are, where we are going, where morality came from, the unity of the human race (all descended from Adam and Eve), a definition of marriage, sexuality that is rooted in creation, and so on—in such a way that the emptiness of evolution becomes apparent. It has no design, no meaning, no equality, no destination, no God, no hope.

What about Sunday? Yes, it’s true, if you attend the 9:00 life-builder hour, you hear the thumps of students upstairs. What sounds like the cacophony of elephants dancing is actually just dismal soundproofing amplifying every movement. More than wrestling the foosball table or moving furniture, though, we are often tackling the most gripping topics of our lives: who Christ is and who we are.

Our culture is in the crosshairs of secular thinking, our kids are at the crossroads of decision. Our need is still the cross of Christ. Pray boldly for our youth to own truth and proclaim it to their peers.

 

There are a lot of great things going on in the Hub. Over the next several weeks you will find articles in the bulletin reflecting on the first year of our Thursday night Hub ministry. So, to be sure that you check out future bulletins, I’m going to give you a little flyover of this past year.

As you may recall, we began the Hub in order to better minister to families with children. Essentially, we wanted to bring the idea of Sunday school to a time of the week when we could have more flexibility and opportunity to not only teach our kids but to give them the tools with which to minister to others.

We have made a great start toward meeting this goal. We started the fall teaching communion to the kids: both what it means and how to serve it. In that first month, we began home visitations, and our kids saw how meaningful it can be to serve. For them, this has become an expectation. A week ago, Richard Kessener and I took the kids to visit the Halls, and as soon as the trip was announced two of them asked if we were going to serve communion.

We also wanted the Hub to be a place where the youth group, now called Crux, could flourish. Heath Jarrett has been faithful in his ministry to them, building what we hope will be the foundation of a group of kids who are committed to following Christ. Crux has been slowly and steadily gaining ground in the scriptures and bonding as a group.

Along with our goals for the children and youth was the desire to create a space mid-week where families could fellowship and interact. To this end we held Hub dinners at the end of each month. The last Hub dinner was a high note. So many people showed up that we actually ran out of food. There is probably no better indicator that a dinner was successful than empty dishes and no leftovers.

What more is there to learn about the Hub, you may ask? Plenty. For example, what have Heath and the Crux kids been studying? Why is Richard K. always smiling? Who are Austin and Breanne? And what’s the connection between our children and Jeff and Linda H.?

Stay tuned.

 

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