The summer is coming to an end and school is right around the corner. I can’t believe how fast this summer has gone! It feels like just yesterday I was moving to Ohio. Nevertheless, a new school year is starting and it dawned on me a few weeks ago that this will be the first August in about 20 years that I won’t have classes or papers to worry about. It’s crazy for me to even think about that. This certainly is a new chapter in my life.
Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for our students. They will be thrust back into classes and sports and extra-curricular activities before we know it, which I am sure they don’t want to hear, or even think about. I hope this is obvious, but education is important. Although I am not in formal schooling anymore, I still crave to learn and grow as a Christian and I hope the same can be said about everyone at RCC. However, education is not the only thing these kids experience at school. They face temptations, pressures, and expectations of every kind in our local schools. That’s just what junior high and high school in general entail. Studies show that our teens are more stressed now than they have ever been in the past. They have the expectation to do well in class, the pressure to excel at sports that they are involved in, and the desire to have relationships and build friendships, or in short to have a social life. Piling all these things together can make for a strenuous life.
Maybe this is why depression and suicide rates are at an all time high for teens. Instead of being loved for who they are, they are judged for who they should be, at least in other people’s eyes. This isn’t how it should be. God has created each one of them for a divine purpose, to love one another, to pursue God, and to live for Him. I think this culture makes it really easy for them to forget that, even if they do go to church. As the church, it is our responsibility to come alongside them and help them, love them, and encourage them in their day to day walk. Hebrew 10:24–25 states, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” The writer of Hebrews understood the importance of fellowship in the church. Teens need the support of the church now more than ever.
You may be thinking that it’s easy for the youth pastor to say this because it’s my job, but I am truly speaking from experience. I dealt with depression and suicidal thoughts in junior high. This is mainly because I didn’t have many friends in my life and I didn’t feel support from the church. Only when a youth pastor invested in me and showed me that I mattered did I find meaning in my life. That was when I truly became a Christian. I want this to change so that others don’t experience what I went through in that very dark time of my life. As the church, it is not good to be so divided based on age groups. We are all the family of God. We all have the commonality of wanting to follow Jesus. Let us be the family that God wants us to be. These kids need it and you know, they just might surprise you.
I’ve learned a lot this summer and feel as if I have grown as a youth pastor in just these few months. I’ve fallen in love with teaching these kids and getting to know them. We’ve had a lot of fun this summer between youth group, paintball, Eldora, and Cedar Point, and I can’t wait to see what the new school year has in store. I simply ask that you would be in prayer for the students as they start school again in a few weeks. This world can be a scary place, but what joy there is in knowing that God is in control and loves us so very much.
“Let all that you do be done in love.”
– 1 Corinthians 16:14