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Think about the church you grew up in. Did you know adults in the congregation outside of your family and church staff? How did those adults help to form and model faith practices for you? Chances are that adults leading youth today have a dramatically different experience and expectations of Christian community than the teens we lead and serve.
Many young people now have experienced community in very different ways than adults. Some have grown up uncomfortable looking people in the eye, having conversations with people in different age groups and feeling like everyone older than you have nothing but pressure-filled expectations. This can make it difficult for teenagers to understand what multi-generational Christian community is and potentially can be in Christ. Especially after a pandemic, teenagers may find it very difficult to invest in community.
Despite this, we know that true, deep and even intergenerational Christian community is essential: based on a need that God made us with, and planted deep inside our very essence and being, in His image. God made us for each other and draws us together in His Word and Sacrament. If unmet, our need for community can result in loneliness, isolation and even lead to situational depression, fear and more. Or we seek out to fill community with things that aren’t of God. These are all results of the sinful condition of the world on this side of heaven. Yet our actual need for other people and connection is not the result of sin. God places the need for connection in us, but also places us in families, churches and youth ministries to meet those needs.
Session One: Community made in God’s Image
Students will study how God has made them in His image, but we were not made to be alone. We need one another, and community in Christ is different from communities formed around anything else.
Session Two: Christian Community in Christian Families
The first community that God gives to us is usually in our family. Christian youth will appreciate the community God gives them in their immediate families.
Session Three: Christian Community in our Congregation
Congregational life is critical beyond youth ministry and attendance. Youth will be inspired to jump into church fellowship and service and to find a local church after high school if they move away.
Session Four: Christian Community in the World-Wide Church
Individuals and their local congregational community have an important place in the wider synod, the Christian church at large and Christians united over time. This study will help them appreciate this huge community around them.
These lessons have four devotions that run parallel to the Bible study. These are designed for you to use if you meet multiple times a week or for you to share through email or social media in between lessons.