-by Josh Sweeney
I believe youth ministry is important in the lives of teenagers. No, we are not a sports team that will hold a trophy, a choreographed dance or cheer that will receive medals, an assignment that will receive an A+ grade in red letters or a project that will win accolade after accolade. Youth ministry is an active, engaging, mission oriented community believing in the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament Scriptures that share about a love that is so overwhelmingly beautiful that it begins and ends at a cross.
I love Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He was a German theologian during early 20th century and he began his ministry as a youth minister. I find his writings inspiring to talk about amongst teenagers. He writes, “Looking at the Cross of Jesus, he knows the human heart. He knows how utterly lost it is in sin and weakness, how it goes astray in the ways of sin, and he also knows that it is accepted in grace and mercy” (Life Together p.118-119). This is an inspiring message that needs to be shared with youth. Their worlds are turned upside down by social media, peer pressure, parent pressure and this ideal of excellence that can become too much at some points. So we give students a resting place. We give them a place to catch their breath in the midst of chaos and storm of their over-scheduled lives. This place happens every Sunday morning and nights in the Lower Room at Marietta First United Methodist Church.
Andrew Root, a contemporary theologian specializing in youth ministry, writes, “Ministry, then, is not about ‘using’ relationships to get individuals to accept a ‘third thing,’ whether that be conservative politics, moral behaviors or even the gospel message. Rather, ministry is about connection, one to another, about sharing in suffering and joy, about persons meeting persons with no pretense or secret motives. It is about shared life, confessing Christ not outside the relationship but within it. This, I learned, was living the gospel.” So that’s what we echo. We echo this community that is grounded in the Gospels and serving our neighbor is the person playing a crazy game, singing with the youth band or sharing our stories in small group. We hope you check us out and grow into our community.