“A person will worship something, have no doubt about that…That which dominates our imaginations and our thoughts will determine our lives, and our character. Therefore, it behooves us to be careful what we worship, for what we are worshipping we are becoming.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
We, as humans, were created as worshipping beings. As Emerson expresses so strikingly above, we will worship something. And that which we worship, we are developing into. Old or young, this should get all of us thinking, reflecting, and seriously asking ourselves, “what is it that I am worshipping with my life? In what direction am I pointing my attention, dreams, time, and efforts?” Our hope is that with our lives and our entire beings we might worship the great Creator and Lover of our souls, and as we worship God we may be transformed closer and closer into his likeness.
As a pastor to teenagers, this concept is central to my work and my hope for the youth at First Baptist St. Pete. We know developmentally speaking, that teenagers are at a place in life where much of their focus is on identity and the questions, “Who am I? Who am I becoming? Where is my place in this great big world?” In the midst of a broadening circle of influence with their family, friends at school, sports, social media (I could go on…), there are many, many active participants in this conversation on identity. One option is to see these many voices to be threatening or in competition with the church-but, I choose not to see it that way. I am thrilled that our students have numerous circles and spheres in which they are experiencing life. Hopefully, through each of these experiences, they are learning more and more of who it is that God has created them to be in this world with their gifts, talents, and unique identity.
That being said, with Emerson’s quote in mind, it is essential that the Church be one of the active players in a teenager’s circle of influence. While our students are doing the good work of exploring identity and further understanding who they are, they need a faith community reminding them whose they are, and pointing towards the one who is deserving of all our worship. This is one of the reasons why it is so important for students to have a church and youth group where they feel safe to come as they are, ask their questions, explore their identity as a child of God, and be encouraged and loved through this pivotal life stage.
It is often said that the youth are “the future church,” but if we are taking seriously their spiritual development and understanding them to be valid members or the Body of Christ, we must see them as integral members of the Church now, not just ten years from now. I promise- after spending a few weeks with these students, this is a good thing! You want to claim these teenagers as part of your church, they are awesome! I encourage you if you aren’t already, get connected with some of these students at First Baptist. You will be encouraged by their passion and zeal for life, and you may just have the honor and privilege of joining the voices speaking into their lives as they explore and develop their own identity. The
future of the church looks bright!
Just a reminder: All students (6th grade through 12th grade) and their families are invited to a Meet-n-Greet lunch this coming Sunday, October 22nd after worship in Heritage Hall. Join us for lunch and a conversation about the vision for the youth group at FBC St Pete and important upcoming events. Please email Pastor Sara at email@example.com so we can have a count for lunch. See you there!