When we work together, more gets accomplished! When parents work together, share wisdom and information, and encourage one another, then kids have more security, stability, and opportunity. When teachers work together, there is continuity, community, and camaraderie at school.
When coaches work together, instead of competing, athletes can build on personal and team goals throughout their sports career. When church leaders work together, we prove that the people we serve are more important than short-term individual accomplishments.
Last weekend, we hosted a leadership conference at our church for youth pastors, youth leaders, parents of teenagers, and college-aged leaders. We had more than 120 people representing 15 churches from all over Ohio and Michigan. We came together to worship God, learn from one another, and work together to reach the next generation. Our organization is called Impact.
This summer will be our 23rd year for Impact Summer Camp. We will host around 500 students and leaders from 20-plus churches all across our region. Every November, we rally these same churches for a fall retreat for students. These camps and retreats give an opportunity for students to get away from the normal grind of their lives and hear inspiring and life changing messages. They get to spend time with friends who are committed to making good choices. They play sports together and stay up late talking about the challenges of life.
These trips are catalyst events. Many young people return with stories of how God was real to them in these moments. But Impact is so much more than just an event. Our students come home excited about their youth ministry, excited to reach their friends, and excited to make God honoring decisions in their life.
As a church, we have a very purposeful vision to reach the next generation. Several years ago, when our youth group was growing out of the room they were meeting in, we allowed and encouraged them to meet in our main auditorium on Wednesday nights.
This past year, our church has grown and made a bold decision to bring our youth pastor on full time. John Fitzpatrick has been leading Uprising Youth for more than five years as a part-time pastor. Every week, we host a youth service with a full band leading worship. Pastor John brings a message of hope and encouragement specifically for teenagers every week.
They also meet in small groups at the end of the night to talk about what they are learning and pray together. Then on Sunday nights we have separate small groups for guys and girls with time for fellowship, Bible Study, and discussion.
Of all the other elements that go into giving young people a foundation for success as they get older, I have found that having their own community of faith is one of the most vital elements. When the church is allowed and encouraged to be a community of support, young people are much more apt to choose the right path.
I have always believed, if you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything. Only time will tell the tale, but if you are a parent who wants to help your kids make great decisions with their life, help them find a great youth ministry, encourage them to get involved.
When we all do what we can to support and help the young people of our community, we all share in the reward as these same young people grow up to make our community better and stronger as adults.
Shane Rhodehamel is the Lead Pastor of Faith Family Church in Wilmington. He has been married to his wife Amie for 18 years and they have three kids who are involved in Wilmington City Schools. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.