Why I Keep Bringing Youth
A giant quilt hangs on the wall on a staircase in our house. It’s too big to use everyday on a bed, but it’s a very special reminder of many years of youth ministry. A significant part of the quilt are pieces of t-shirts from the United Methodist YOUTH gatherings going all the way back to the 80’s (wow- have I been a part of these for THAT long?!). Themes like “Reach Higher, Deeper, Further,” and “Let’s Rock: Building Up the People of God,” “More Than >>>,” and “Go On >” are reminders of these times that have been significant for both me and my youth. Times that have provided opportunities for discipleship, service, worship, learning and fun that have strengthened my own faith as well as those in my youth groups.
There are so many reasons that I have been bringing youth all these years – and even now, the youth and leaders from my church are busy fund-raising and getting excited about YOUTH 2019. Here are just a few of those reasons:
- It opens your eyes to the fact that the United Methodist Church is vital in the lives of countless youth all over the world, and that it is much more than just what one experiences in the local church.
- There is nothing quite like gathering with thousands of youth from all over: worshipping, learning, serving, having fun – and experiencing the presence of the Holy Spirit in the midst of it all.
- It provides an opportunity for young people to see that they can truly make a difference, not only in their local church and community, but on a much larger scale as well.
- For young people (and even leaders), it can help you develop leadership skills and discover resources that can help you personally as well as your church.
- One’s own personal faith is strengthened through Bible study, worship, individual devotional time, service projects and conversations with others.
- It makes you aware of the countless United Methodist resources, colleges and universities, mission opportunities and so much more.
- It helps you consider what God is calling you to do – and perhaps even explore ways you can be in ministry.
- You meet new friends – and when you return four years later you have the chance to reconnect. For youth leaders, it is a great way to network and get new ideas.
- It is a special time of bonding for a youth group, no matter how large or small. Even our church bus breaking down and then no AC on the way to Florida brought us closer together!
I have found that by bringing youth and other adult leaders to these YOUTH events, our commitment to follow Christ is strengthened, our understanding of the United Methodist connection grows, and we learn about and experience things that we can take back home with us. It’s not just a fun time with the youth group that is put away in a memory box and quickly forgotten, but it’s an experience that energizes, inspires, motivates, encourages, and moves youth and their leaders to be better disciples of Jesus Christ. And that’s something that will stay with us long after YOUTH 2019 is over!
Rev. Margaret Davis Freeman is an ordained deacon in the United Methodist Church, currently serving at First United Methodist Church in Franklin, North Carolina. She is passionate about helping people of all ages grow in their relationship with God. Whenever she has free time, she loves hiking in the mountains where she lives and traveling with her husband, James, and daughters, Laura and Bess.