The Christian walk is a fascinating one. We are all part of something much larger than ourselves, a mission and mandate from the God of the universe is what drives us. We are each a link in a chain of believers reaching back thousands of years, the faith that binds us all is passed from person to person, maybe by a stranger or maybe by a parent or friend. In my opinion, one of the most precious and beautiful ways the faith is passed on is from parent to child.
I think every Christian parent longs for the day that their children pick up the torch of Christian faith for themselves and become the next link in the chain of believers. I know for me that has been a big element of my prayers since my children were born. Even after the step of faith has been taken, there are still challenges that persist, will my children take it seriously enough, how can we get them to dig into the bible for themselves, what does the process of discipleship look like as they get older, how can we keep them tied to God when the messaging of the world around us increasingly is more hostile and contradictory to scripture?
While I am a firm believer that parents are the primary disciple-er and influence in their own children’s lives, the church body can be a big help in this process. Working specifically in student ministries with teens I look at our work as a partnership with families and an additional form of support for parents.
It’s interesting to look at statistics of teens and their faith, at times it can be disheartening. 66% of teenagers drop out of church for at least a year when they become a young adult; among those, 29% still don’t attend at age 30. While this is heartbreaking news, I do see some statistics that give me hope. Teens that had an adult (in addition to their own parents) investing in their spiritual lives were 2.65 times more likely to hold onto their faith as young adults. Studies also show serving in some capacity at church, having a few big spiritual experiences (camps, retreats, ect), and building a habit of reading the bible all have positive effects on teens holding onto their faith later in life.
If you’re processing this information as a parent (as I am) you likely want to incorporate these things into your child’s life right away! One of the aspects of student ministries here at Aspen Ridge is building in these kinds of experiences for students too. Whether it’s service opportunities, or the free bible and resource shelf, or the camps and missions trips we organize, our hope is to continue to grow the personal love of, and devotion to, God.
In the next month we will be attending two separate camps for students, middle school camp June 5-9 and high school camp June 25-29. Both are hosted by Christ in Youth. These are great experiences where kids get out of normal rhythms of life and pursue God with their friends. While I covet your prayers for both of these events, you actually can get involved on an even more personal level if you would like to. Every year we set up a table outside the weekend worship services and have the pictures and names of every student going on the trip. We give the congregation an opportunity to “adopt” a student going to camp. This is the commitment to pray for that specific student, buy them a few snacks and goodies, and maybe even write them an encouraging note for the week. The students love this every year, not only because of snacks either! This is a time when someone from church (sometimes a complete stranger) is taking time out of their life to think and pray for that specific student. It’s a very personal and practical way you can pour into a student involved here at church and affect their week, experience, and life!
This year we will have the table available in the lobby May 21 and 22 at all three services. If you feel inclined to adopt a student please do stop by and grab a students name. The slips will indicate when you should stop back and drop off snacks or notes for the student. Make sure to pray for them over the week of camp (and honestly the students could use prayer after that too!)
Thanks for your help and care when it comes to our students here at Aspen Ridge. I cherish seeing them grow up in Christ and I am truly blessed to be able to see where God takes them in this life.
Associate Pastor of Student Ministries