What does a fully formed disciple of Jesus look like? How can we create a space in which the youth of our community can grow toward being a mature disciple of Christ? These are the questions that drive youth ministry. Sure, we also ask questions like, “How do we entice more youth to come to our church?” and “Is it a good idea to put a Happy Meal in a blender and then have a contest to see who can drink a Happy Meal smoothie the quickest?” (spoiler alert: it’s not), but the questions that really drive us are those that explore how effective we are in helping youth to grow in their faith.
We have been studying the life of Jesus on Wednesday nights, and this week we started with the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew’s Gospel. We looked at the structure, and discussed how the values of Jesus often run counter to the values of humanity. Where we tend to value wealth, Jesus says “Blessed are the poor in spirit” (Matthew 5:3). While we value power, Jesus says “Blessed are the meek” (5:5). Jesus goes on to teach about the love of enemies, and putting the needs of others before our own. Together we questioned the text: what does Jesus actually expect from us? Is Jesus using hyperbole to make a point? We might be tempted to think so if it weren’t for what Jesus says in 5:48: “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
The word “perfect” there is the Greek word teleios, and it does not mean a mathematical perfection, but rather would be better translated as “mature.” If you think of a fig tree, then that tree is perfect when it produces the fruit that it was created to bear. It doesn’t matter if the branches are all gnarled, if it lost limbs in a storm, or if some of its leaves are brown. What matters is that it produces fruit, and it is in the bearing of this fruit that the tree finds perfection. The same is true for us. When we bear the fruit of ministry in this world that God has creates us to produce, then we are fully formed disciples of Jesus.
What has God created you to do? What fruit are you called to bear into this world? We explore these questions regularly with our youth. And now, we do that face to face. We are back meeting together, and you are invited to be a part of figuring out what it means to follow Jesus in this world. We gather on Sunday mornings at 10:05 am in the Hub (our youth building, across the street from the main church building) to talk about Jesus. We gather on Sunday afternoons to grow in our faith. Our 6th grade confirmation class meets at 4:30 pm, and youth in the 7th – 12th grades meet at 6. We study the Bible on Wednesdays at 7:00 pm, and we try to dig down deep into the Scripture and find the Living Word of God. We are also meeting virtually. Through all of this, we are exploring our call to be fully formed disciples of Jesus, and we are learning how to love the world around us. Come join us!