The Entire Congregation as Youth Minister
By Rori Francis Blakeney
“Will you who sponsor these candidates
support and encourage them in their Christian life?”
“Will you nurture one another in the Christian faith and life and
include these persons now before you in your care?”
Most likely, you have heard those words more than you can count. They are important words. Two questions from our baptismal covenant remind us that it is not just the job of the preacher or pastor or youth minister to care for youth.
It’s all our responsibility.
Former Benton Family Associate Professor of Christian Education, Columbia Theological Seminary, Dr. Rodger Nishioka tells a wonderful story about three members of the Crescent Hill Presbyterian Church, in Louisville, Kentucky. The congregation has a membership roll of 125-130 and 75-80 active worshippers.
Ann and Scott recently relocated to Louisville due to a divorce and the mother’s employment. In one of the church meetings, Nishioka asked the congregation to pray for Ann and Scott. Janet, a 66-year-old power bowler and power knitter, who was a leader in the church, asked him to point out Scott. Thus, the story of Scott and Janet starts.
Small membership churches are uniquely positioned to encourage intimate relationships where individuals’ story can be discovered.
Once they met, for over a year, Janet would find Scott to offer God’s love through a hug. Scott noticed one Sunday that the kind lady was not in church. Ann told Scott that Janet was in the hospital. Scott asked his mom if they could go visit Janet. It was in that hospital room that Janet and Ann realized that God’s love was reaching Scott.
Small membership churches are uniquely positioned to encourage intimate relationships where individuals’ story can be discovered. In addition, these churches often employ the entire congregation in youth ministry. Notice Nishioka empowered the church to live out its commitment to surrounding young people with the love of Christ.