On the Other Side of Youth Ministry…………Nancy Lee Gauche

I was doing some Pre-Marriage counseling for a young couple.  I’ve had a fairly close relationship with these 2 people, but found myself surprised when we came to the Spiritual Beliefs portion of the pre-marriage time together.  These 2 young people disagreed with the following statements:

My partner and I feel closer because of our Christian faith.  Disagree

We have discussed the importance of our Christian faith.  Disagree

I believe our marriage must include active participation in a church.  Disagree

My faith is the foundation for the commitment I have to my partner.  Disagree

Prayer is an important part of my daily life.  Disagree

We both support the practice of giving a portion of our income to the church.  Disagree

We rely on our faith in God during difficult times.  Disagree

Both of these young people were raised in a mainline church.  I couldn’t help but wonder about each of their congregations.   I just wondered if their congregations gave priority and support for youth ministry, if they had significant relationships and a sense of community as young people in the church, and if there was committed and competent leadership as part of their experience of church.  Maybe and maybe not.  But in our discussions of faith it appeared they had a huge disconnect with the church.

The 3 themes listed above emerged as qualities of ministry in the exemplar congregations that were studied in the EYM study.   It appears these 3 qualities make a difference in young people’s lives of faith.

  • Congregational Priority and Support for Youth Ministry
  • Significant Relationships and A Sense of Community; and
  • Committed Competent Leadership.

Sounds like 3 ESSENTIAL goals to strive for in your ministry!

Pastor Nancy Lee Gauche

Nancy Lee Gauche worked in Children, Youth & Family ministry for 25 years.  Today, she is program associate for the Center for Children Youth and Family Ministry at Luther Seminary in St Paul, MN.

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