A former pastor of mine once asked me what I remember better: A) the five most influential sermons I’ve ever heard; or B) the five most influential people in my life.
Now please hear me: I fully support biblical preaching and believe in its power and importance in transforming hearts. But my former pastor’s question magnifies a critical piece to our spiritual maturity: Relationships have serious influence. It’s through life-giving relationships where growth in Christ is uniquely developed as stories are shared, struggles are heard, and hope is found.
Some of the best ministry advice I’ve ever been given is simply this: Listen. Through asking questions and listening, a genuine relationship is launched. Walls come down. Trust is built. One’s humanity is dignified. And channels are opened for the grace and truth of Christ to resonate most deeply.
Youth for Christ emphasizes developing “authentic Christ-sharing relationships” with teenagers. This means that ministry leaders not only seek to introduce teens to Christ, but they’re also developing healthy relationships with them.
I’m coming to appreciate this emphasis more and more. Young people are wrestling with a host of issues. Depression, family dysfunction, and negative peer pressure are often defining their stories. Moreover, questions surrounding topics like sexuality, self-worth, and future aspirations are frequently unanswered or untouched.
Youth are too often devoid of positive relationships where there is constructive dialogue on life’s challenges. It’s vital that we create safe space for young people to discuss their fears, doubts, and pain. This space creates opportunities for growth in Christ to take place together, within the context of an authentic Christ-sharing relationship.
It’s my hope that Stateline Youth for Christ can embody building such relationships with teens in our community. Please pray for fruitfulness in our ministry, and please also consider joining our team of ministry leaders who are actively pursuing our youth.