I have only been a CRC Youth Pastor for four months (this is my first year) and I am so happy to be part of this network! Something that has been on my heart lately is pressure on the youth in the CRC church. What do I mean by that?
Well let me start of with this. I am from Lynden, WA. Why does that matter? Lynden is a 13,000 person town where everyone knows everyone, and many generations of families live here (grandparents, parents and kids all grew up in this town). It's a town where people will know you simply based on your last name and that kind of bugs me a little bit.
Here's why it bugs me. When you know someone simply by their last name, they immediately become placed in the shadow of the generations before them and there can be so much expected of them so fast. If they do something dumb (which kids do) they are looked down upon with such huge disappointment because they didn't live up to the expectations that their parents did. People will start comparing them to their parents, saying: "Why didn't you play football like your father?" It doesn't even stop there, in my own personal experience I have had people outside of my family compare me to my brother. I went to Lynden High School and I was a freshman when my brother was a senior. Other football parents always asked me, "Why didn't you play football like your brother?" That does no one any good. Kids will never be forgiven for what their parents do. They will be known by their last name.
Here is where us Youth Pastors come in. We need to forget last names, kick them out of the picture. Kids are trying so hard to live up to sometimes unrealistic expectations (now I realize sometimes this is not the case). But when those kids come to Youth Group we need to know them by FIRST NAME basis only. They need a chance to be themselves and create their own persona rooted in Christ, and we need to be there to help them with that. We need to be careful putting pressure on students, we need to be careful of comparing, because one student is not 100% alike to their parents. God has designed them for a specific purpose that only fits them. We can't expect them to follow in the EXACT footsteps, though some might. They are their own person. They are not their parents. So my challenge is to know them by their first name only, Who is "John"? Not "John Smith"
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.