A podcast, “The Viral Jesus,” asked several college students about what kind of guidance they seek in older adults. They mentioned that they appreciated things like talking about their individual journeys, with some mentorship and accountability. They found acceptance and safety simply in conversation, which was key to a healthy relationships with an authority figure. But, spiritual mentorship can be hard to come by these days. And yet, it is still worth the effort for young people to find someone around them who can offer hope and help.
Spiritual mentorship is key for students these days. I wonder if we’ve been doing it wrong for way too long. I mean, in Sunday school, youth group, sports, and clubs we’ve often stuck to a ratio of 1 leader to every 5 young people. That’s fine if the goal is to keep the classroom in one piece, but to really pass the baton of faith to the next generation we may need to think more intentionally.
Perhaps we need to consider having a cluster of mentors available. It is the question Andrew asked in a sermon a few years ago: what if, instead of 1 leader to every 5 students, Peninsula invested 5 mentors into every 1 student? This doesn’t mean every Sunday school class room is overflowing with adult leaders (though DeVonna would probably love that). No, maybe we can we find small ways to make big impacts? We could recruit adults to pray for students? And maybe as they share prayer needs, they can have those hard, yet safe, conversations? Maybe our students will learn what it means to sacrifice for others? Maybe our students will understand that the church is there for them when they need it most? Maybe we can become a sticky church?
Every church is one generation from closing its doors. Sometimes it is a slow death, dragging out far longer than is beneficial to the Kingdom. Sometimes it is a quick death, which is just as painful. But if we cannot invest in the next generation, who will carry the torch? No one. We too, are one generation away from closing the doors.
But I stand and shout as loud as I can, “Not us! Not here.”
Andrew and all of the other youth leaders are happy to set up parent-approved meetings with students outside of Wednesday nights. Instead of only railing against the downward spiral of our culture, we must invest in our own families and in the students we have at Peninsula. It is easy to rant, it is harder to invest. The only way this church survives as faithful to the truth, is to invest in the next generation. Will you invest? If so, how?