I was blessed to attend the 2015 Youth Rally, titled “Masterpiece.” After two years of absence, it was amazing to be back in Ocean City, Md., again. I am continually amazed by the way God can touch every single person’s heart throughout the weekend. And this year was no exception for me.
I was most amazed by the Rev. Brenda Salter McNeil’s presentation, “Mission Impossible.” She talked about how God calls each of us into situations that make us uncomfortable and doubtful of success. She assured us that the Bible doesn’t promise us an easy walk of faith; but God calls us into difficult places in order to further His kingdom. In particular, she focused on the church’s call to further the faith of young people.
What we have to do as a church, according to Dr. Brenda, is to walk into “mission impossible” situations and explore topics with youth on reconciliation, inclusion and love.
God will call us, both as individuals and as the church, into places and topics where we don’t want to go. But He will stay by our sides and lead us through, ultimately furthering His kingdom, and spreading His love.
Recently, I read an article about evaluating a youth group’s success not by the number of youth in attendance, but by the deepening faith of the youth who are attending. Dr. Brenda said that if a church begins to really delve into deeper topics with youth, they will lose attendance. However, this is the only way that, as a church, we can cultivate the faith that teens need to continue a walk with God for the rest of their lives.
More than just a message for the church, however, Dr. Brenda was talking to the youth. She was talking to the next generation of world-changers and church leaders. Millennials are the most diverse generation in America, and it is going to be our job to bring this culture of diversity into the church. Even though to many of us young people the church seems stiff, old, and unicultural, Dr. Brenda challenged and encouraged us to grow up to be the change that will bring the church in the 21st century.
God has really been pushing my heart to break for the lost youth of this world, and I feel His call to pursue a life where I can work closely with His youth and bring them to His love. Dr. Brenda’s message spoke to my heart on this issue and encouraged me to step out of my personal comfort zone while pushing the church out of its own comfort zone. I think the church has come a long way recently, but God is still calling us to push deeper.
By Christina Siewert, Hopewell UMC