In order for young people to become passionate about mercy ministries in your community they need to be raised in a culture of service. Mentors, parents and youth leaders have the task of creating an environment where biblical service to the needy and a love of justice are actively pursued. I want to explore some ways of inspiring and nurturing action from the ground up.
If your church has a focus on addressing the wider community’s needs and being active in its voice of justice, this attitude will naturally flow down to the teenagers within the congregation. Having a servant heart is very much a combination of nature and nurture. While we are created with a God given ability for compassion and kindness, it takes being raised in an environment where these attributes are valued and practiced regularly to really develop a love of altruism. A church that is actively supporting charities, welcoming the needy, developing relationships with refugees, and providing for that single mum who lives next door that could really use a hand, is much more likely to be growing the next generation of world changers.
Young people must be given a wide view. Teenagers that develop their world view in a protected and sheltered environment are never exposed to the things that create a passion for justice and mercy. It is one thing to tell people about the inequality and injustice of the world and a completely different thing to let them experience it. While churches obviously want to protect and care for their young people, the best thing you can do for them is allowing them to see some of the hard stuff. A real love for people in need is only possible if you actually know people in need. Teenagers are at a stage where they are developing their world view and the more you shelter them from the real world, the smaller their view of it is. A socially aware individual is one that has been allowed and encouraged to experience how other people live.
Kids and youth ministries are the perfect tool for creating young people who care about the world they live in. Why not do a term at Kids’ Church on what the bible says about serving the neediest? Or have a social worker come in to Youth Group and chat about what the biggest issues are for the people in your community? You could organise your Kids’ Church class to put together a support package for an Asylum Seeker. Churches can use their resources and ministries to raise a generation who understand the part they play in seeking justice and showing mercy.
One Corinthians tells us that every person in the church has individual gifts and skills that they should use in the service of Jesus. Teenagers are not exempt from this! Encourage and build up your young people to embrace their skills in the service of others. Be ready to help improve and encourage the gifts teenagers have so that they can be used as they go out into the world in Jesus name. This is a practical step in developing young people equipped to be part of social justice and mercy ministries within your church and community.