Effective Youth and Family Ministry is: Welcoming

Statement: God’s message of grace is for all. The work of the church is to welcome all, without exception, into communities of grace.

Biblical Basis: “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me." Mark 9:37

When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, ‘Zaccheaus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house. So he came down and welcomed him gladly.”

- Luke 19:5-6

Rationale: It is certainly the state of humankind to gravitate to those we know. The stranger is usually seen as suspect rather than seeing the stranger as if they were Christ. We seek out affinity groups and people just like we are and that is most often the rule and not the exception. Youth ministry by its very nature is one of these affinity groups.

Jesus demonstrated hospitality to us in many encounters where he welcomed the unimaginable in very concrete, imaginable ways. Jesus lived it. He invites and welcomes us into a relationship with him that frees us to live like welcoming people.

The welcoming that Jesus teaches goes way beyond just greeting someone at the door. It is welcoming a guest or stranger and tending to their needs. It is welcoming someone and continuing to take responsibility for them. It is welcoming even those different than yourself and going out of your way to accompany them and to hear their story. This is what Jesus modeled.

It has been said that youth ministry in the congregational context is often a direct reflection of those who lead it. If the adults who work with the youth in the church setting have a spirit of hospitality, it is highly likely that young people will develop welcoming traits and share that same value with others. If every youth ministry in the congregational context had “Be welcoming as Christ has been welcoming to us” as one of their primary ministry goals and found a way to sincerely live it out, it could transform the community, the entire congregation, and certainly the ministry to its youth.

When a Jesus-patterned, genuine sense of hospitality is a faith community norm, this is what it could look like:

 Where you live and what you drive is immaterial and Jesus’ love for all becomes real. 

 Age is not an issue, so we love equally because Christ first loved us. 

 Hair and skin color do not matter, for we are in Christ and we are new creations. 

 Whether you shop at a boutique or thrift shop is not an issue because you understand in a deep way

  that absolutely nothing can separate you from the love of God. 

 Your family name gives neither credit or discredit to who you are, for Christ calls you “mine.” 

 The honor roll or the GPA you claim is inconsequential, for God’s gift of grace is freely given. 

 Forgiveness and reconciliation is standard, not an exception and we understand how the Spirit intercedes for us with  

  sighs too deep for words to express. 

 A door of welcome opens in all sorts of ways...we welcome, we are the welcomed, we seek, we are found, we  

  transform, we are transformed, we see Jesus, we show Jesus, and we toss the “Closed” sign in the recycling bin.

What can be more welcoming than God’s grace? God’s grace lived out! Having that very grace at work in us, through us, among us so that we treat and see each other as if they were Christ, now that is welcoming!

Faith Lutheran Church - 155 Boyson Road, Marion, IA 52302 - 319.377.9700