Friday, February 25, 2011

    Guest Post: Being Church - Recovering Spiritual Gifts in Youth Ministry Pt. 1

    For this guest post we welcome our colleague TJ Humphrey who serves as Youth Director at Trinity Christian Reformed Church in St. Louis, Missouri. This is part one of a two part post on how TJ has attempted to bring a different focus to his youth ministry program.

    There are no benchwarmers in the Kingdom of God.  According to the Scriptures, everyone is expected to suit up and get into the game, no exceptions.  The church, however, has gotten into this horrible habit of sidelining many of its congregants, especially its youth.  This is what happens when we view our students only as the future of the church and not as a part of the church here and now.  We tell our students, “Just sit back and watch us for a while, and one day you will be able to do what we do,” which a lot of the time isn’t much of anything at all.  We force our students to sit out for the majority of the years that they are under our care and we are baffled when, a few years after they graduate, they decide that Christianity isn’t for them anymore.  We need to face the fact that it is time for a change.  We need to teach our students how to be the church (here and now) and how to use their spiritual gifts (here and now).

    Ah, spiritual gifts…those are two words that are thrown around fairly often but never taken very seriously.  Do we really know what the New Testament writers meant whenever they wrote about them?  Are we taking them as seriously as they did?  From my experience, most Christians today have the tendency to either neglect the gifts of the Spirit or to abuse them.  It’s time for us to take a sober look at what the New Testament writers viewed as radically significant.
    Several months ago I began to notice a trend in many of the New Testament letters, most of which, were written by Paul.  For some reason, I never noticed how much these New Testament verses intensely emphasized the use of spiritual gifts in the lives of every believer in the different churches.  Paul writes about the usage of spiritual gifts in great detail in Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, and Ephesians 4, and in my opinion, several other places.  Even Peter is very specific about the recognition and usage of spiritual gifts in 1 Peter 3:10-11. 

    Furthermore, it is vital to note that both Paul and Peter are not specifically writing to “ordained” ministers, but to entire congregations in each account, which means that the exhortation to exercise the usage of spiritual gifts is not just a “pastoral” thing, but is meant to be accepted and acted upon by every believer:

    ·         “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others…”  1 Peter 3:10-11.
    ·         “The whole body…builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”  Ephesians 4:16.
    ·         “Now, to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.”  1 Corinthians 12:7.
    ·         We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.”  Romans 12:6.

    For Peter and Paul, it was imperative that each Christian used his/her gifts to edify the church in service to God.  It’s absolutely crucial that we rediscover what it means to not only help our young people discover what their spiritual gifts are, but to provide an atmosphere where they can begin putting them into practice on a regular basis.

    In part two of this post, TJ will share a practical, hands-on approach to encouraging the spiritual gifts of the teens within your ministry.


    Anonymous said...

    Love it. Can't wait for part 2!

    Heather said...

    Part of our "mission statement" as a ministry is making sure that the teenagers use their spiritual gifts. We have been going through a study of what that looks like with them.

    "Now, you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it." 1 Cor. 12:27 said...

    Awesome! What study have you been using if you don't mind me asking?