Like a tree deeply rooted, youth who understand their Baptismal faith have a strong base from which to grow as Lutheran Christians in this world. But every tree is tested from time to time. Resiliency is the quality that allows for an individual to bounce back and adapt when faced with stress, adversity, or tragedy. Resilient Christians can navigate all the challenge and struggle in our world while maintaining their identity in Christ.
Healthy youth ministry helps to root young people in their Christian identity. Regardless of what they face in life they remain humbly confident. When struggles, doubts and questions rise, health youth ministry roots youth in Christ. Through transitions and crisis, resilient young people will return to the means of grace as they face the challenges of this world.
Resilient youth identify with the life and mission of the Christian church and seek to serve others. Their faith is not private or only for Sunday mornings. Instead, they recognize that their faith in Jesus Christ connects them with their congregations, a larger church body and the whole Christian church. Youth can be emboldened to share truth in love, serve others and treat people with compassion, as love was first shown to them in Christ.
Resilient youth remain humbly confident in their faith in the face of crisis and transition. Challenges may come unexpectedly or as a part of transitions like graduation, moving, and entering the workforce. In fact, the biggest drop off in worship attendance for those who leave the church happens right after high school graduation. In these critical times, adults and parents should listen well, empathize, encourage confession and absolution, and pray for youth. The Holy Spirit can work to orient young people back to scripture and continue to engage them in the life of the congregation. In these moments, it is important for Christian adults to prepare and ensure that their own posture or judgement pulls toward, not pushes away, a young person from faith.
Resilient youth can build relationships with those different than themselves and navigate disagreements in a humble, loving way. In our divisive, sinful world they are inevitably going to come across resistance. Through the Holy Spirit, resilient youth navigate disagreements in a way which foster relationships while pointing to the truth of the Gospel. As they explore our world, they can listen carefully, ask good question and share both Law and Gospel with confidence. Resilient youth can embrace the diversity of our world, appreciate the breadth of God’s family, and embrace others in the name of Christ.
Resilient youth are lifelong learners who face doubt and challenge by turning to God’s Word. We love to teach young people well, but there will always be something new to learn. The world, sin, and the Devil will continually seek to throw doubt and challenge at us. Resilient youth are lifelong learners who face these forces by turning to God’s living and active Word. In each age and life circumstance, the simple message of God’s love and forgiveness given to us through Jesus needs to be on their minds and lips. Youth ministry connects young people to the Word of God as they are on the frontline of a changing world.
God’s promises in Baptism can provide a much-needed anchor when circumstances, thoughts and feelings fail to bring comfort. Parents and supportive adults can actively equip young people and walk with them to ensure they stay deeply rooted in their identity in Christ. By God’s grace resilient Christians take the questions, new ideas, and struggles back through the filter of their Baptismal faith and truth known in God’s Word.