Thursday, December 3, 2020

Youth Empowered - Outreach Empower Team

 

This week’s post is the final installment of our series that is exploring the digital side of student-led youth ministry, where we have released a new chapter of Youth Empowered for free, right here on Focusing on Jesus! Thank you for tuning in each week to read a new portion of the chapter as we explored Empower Teams through a digital lens.

Outreach Empower Team

Service toward others is essential in the pursuit of being a follower of Christ. A quick glance through the Scriptures can help to reinforce this spiritual truth, and Jesus makes His viewpoint on the matter quite clear: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?” (Luke 9:23-25, NIV). He doubles down on how we are called to deny the self in Luke 14:33, saying that “those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.” The Lord has appointed us to be stewards over the materials, time, monies, services, and other items that we have in our possession (1 Corinthians 4:1-2). Service toward others effectively takes these items, and, through the vehicle of spiritual gifts, unconditionally shares these blessings in an interactive manner with other individuals so that God is purposefully given glory and praise.

But how often is service discussed or practiced in our youth ministries? When we allow students to utilize their God-given gifts outside of the walls of the church, they receive a deeper and more enriching opportunity to nurture and grow their faith through tangible actions that generate immediate results. In other words, they can see the impact of their faithfulness in real-time, and such experiences can be immensely powerful for a young teenager who is exploring their faith.

Understanding the importance of serving others has a heightened sense of urgency within an environment that prevents individuals from meeting in person. The lockdowns that we have been experiencing throughout 2020 have notably decreased our ability to build relationships and interact with others. Under the circumstances, we may realize that we think about others less often (a phrase commonly referred to as “out of sight, out of mind”). More than ever, the youth ministry of today is called to explain the importance of outreach to its students, as it can help combat the inward focus that we inevitably experience when we become isolated from others for extended periods of time.

But what does this mean for a youth ministry that is predominantly meeting remotely? Just because we are not interacting with others in person, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t opportunities to serve others through the digital realm. For instance, older students in the Outreach Empower Team can work with their schools to help initiate a virtual mentorship/tutoring program (where one student offers a 1-hour free tutoring sessions to groups of 3 or 4 younger students via Zoom call). Or perhaps other members of the Outreach Empower Team can become involved with Shopping Angels to help deliver groceries to those who are unable to leave the house. Other opportunities that may be available can be found on youth focused service project sites such as DoSomething.org, or the Youth Service America organization which also has a list of suggested activities to do within the #DoGoodFromHome challenge. 

If we continue to stay isolated within the pandemic, it may become difficult to find a sense of purpose. By helping our students understand the importance of service toward others, our youth ministries can help in generating a sense of purpose for those who are struggling to navigate through the isolation, the social distancing, and the lockdowns that we are experiencing. As we collectively make an intentional effort to take our eyes off of ourselves, it can help us better understand that the Lord can work powerfully in all circumstances and that we can still be content to serve Him through any season, challenging or not.


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