Youth are not the future of the church—they are part of the church today!
This week's post is by Amy Frankruyter, a member of Bethel CRC (Newmarket) and a grade 12 student at Toronto District Christian High School. Amy is a gifted young leader who hopes to study journalism at university next year.
During the month of July, Calvin Seminary hosted a program called “Facing Your Future” (FYF). The program brought in thirty grade 11 and 12 students who are actively involved in their church. Each of the students is a member of a Christian Reformed congregation from across North America and were nominated in order to participate. This year I was one of the lucky students selected for Facing Your Future.
The Facing Your Future program challenged me to seek ministry in all areas of my life. It empowered me for missions and allowed me to think critically about my Reformed faith and theology. Throughout my experiences I realized that we, as the youth, have the ability to take leadership and make a difference. All of the leaders at FYF want to insure that we left with the proper skills and knowledge to do this.
During FYF we were constantly poured into by people more knowledgeable then us. During the first week we heard seminary professors discuss topics such as the limited atonement, the Belhar Confession, and what was happening at Synod. We met with pastors, toured the Denominational Building and even visited a mosque. Our small groups were a big part of the process—they gave us a chance to ask question and see how we can apply what we learned. The first week created in me a desire to live a life for God.
I got the chance to live out what I learned during our excursion sites. The three different excursion sites were: Austin, Texas; Portland, Oregon; and Toronto, Ontario. I got the opportunity to head down to Austin, Texas. In Austin, the 10 of us students, hung out with Pastor Mark Hilbelink and the members of Sunrise Community Church. We learned what it means to be missional, mentored junior high students, talked with the homeless, visited church plants and even lead a worship service at Sunrise Community Church. The FYF experience helped to grow in my walk with God and allowed me to see the gifts that He has given me. I was given the skills and the knowledge to be a leader, and felt compelled to bring that back to my church.
Becoming a leader was a big part of the program. All of the students I met had amazing ideas on how to address the needs of their church. These ideas and leadership qualities are not just in Facing Your Future participants, they are in all youth! Young people want to make a difference, we have new ideas, different perspectives and can see needs that some elders may over look. We are passionate about our faith and want to bring others in, as young people we are all about relationships. Seeing youth your age take leadership will encourage others to get involved. Have youth as leaders can bring more youth in, that way church can be a community! People of all races, all ages both young and old share their love of God together. We are all a part of the body of believers, the church is just as much the youths as it is our parents and our grandparents. For that reason should we not be investing in our young people? We are not just the leaders of tomorrow -- we want to be leaders of today!