Forum: Youth and Young Adult Ministries
by the Rev. Mitchell Bojarski, notes from the Forum on Sunday, February 3, 2019
The vision statement which has been in the works for over two years overlaps significantly with the work we're doing with youth and young adults at Redeemer. I believe that it was the work on the vision that led to my position being created. Going through the bullets on the vision statement I want to say a little bit about how this vision aligns with the work of youth and young adult ministries.
We have a vision of a worshiping community that knows Jesus and grows in love:
United in relationships of holy connection and communion.
This area has been the primary focus of my first year at Redeemer. For the youth we have begun to get to know each other through weekly meetings of the youth group during the forum hour and several other events outside of Sunday morning. The Young Adults have been gathering on a weekly basis for the last several months and several have expressed how much they appreciate the group as a way to make new frends and find support as many of them are new to the city, new to their vocation or newly living on their own. Having attended a youth ministry conference back in November I was reminded in several ways and across several topics that youth ministry is a relationship ministry much, much more than it is a programmatic ministry. Building relationships is the primary point of impact with youth and young adults as well. To this end I have focused my efforts on building relationships with the youth and helping the youth build relationships among themselves as well. There are challenges at Redeemer that I'm still trying to navigate. Namely that the youth here don't go to the same school. For many churches in suburban or rural areas the youth in attendance all attend the same school so a lot of the relationships have some kind of foundation through that. However, at Redeemer very few of the students go to school with any other of the students. To combat this we have to spend even more time allowing the youth to build the relationships between themselves before the group can take on any identity of its own.
Growing with people of every age, race, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic situation, and political persuasion;
The youth and young adults in today's world are on the leading edge of building communities across racial, gender, and sexuality lines. To a large degree we can look to these younger generations for the wisdom that they bring to navigating these types of differences in relationships. To that end we will be engaging in work with the national church, diocese, and Redeemer in reconciling people of different races in our programming in Lent.
Inspired by our understanding of why we are Christian, why we are Episcopalian, why Redeemer matters to us;
This is one of the primary functions of the Confirmation Class which began January 27. I have told the parents and the students that I am perfectly comfortable with them taking the confirmation class because their parents or grandparents are making them take it (It's why I took my confirmation class!!) but that by the end of the class it will be up to them to decide to be confirmed now, later or never. The curriculum will help the students articulate what it means for them to be a Christian, an Episcopalian, and a member of Redeemer. I trust that many of them will want to confirm their baptismal covenants when the bishop visits in June.
Sent into the world, rooted and grounded in love, to serve all people with humility, compassion, and faithfulness.
This piece has two parts. First, we are planning on finding opportunities for the youth to engage in mission here at Redeemer as well as away from home. We will be engaging in mission work with projects that Redeemer is already involved like IHN, MEAC, and Home Comforts. We are also planning a mission to Washington DC this summer to work with people experiencing homelessness in our nation's capital. There are opportunities for the young adults to engage in this work as well and many of them already are. Folks from our young adult group are working with IHN, Club COR, ushers and greeters on Sundays, lay readers, singing in the choir, and more. The other way that I envision the youth being "sent" is the way that we send them off when they finish high school. I hope and pray that we will send students away from the youth group with a faith that they own for themselves. That they know that they are God's beloved children and that they can change the world through their lives of faith.