Ministry in the Present Tense: Reaching Today’s Youth

December 26, 2017

We have an exceptional group of students in the Campolo Scholars program. All have demonstrated a commitment to a life of vocational Christian service and are actively serving with a local church or parachurch ministry. We’ve witnessed incredible personal growth and increased spiritual maturity in all.

I recently asked each Campolo Scholar to write a reflection on their experience in ministry over the past year and I’d like to share highlights from Brittney Daniel’s short essay with you (see a photo gallary from Brittney’s summer ministry here):

My summer was spent ministering to a group of 5th-12th graders as a Summer Youth Intern at First Presbyterian Church of Allentown (PA). But if I am being honest about describing this summer’s journey, I would say: My summer was spent learning and growing from amazingly mature Christians who have an immense amount of faith who just so happen to be between the ages of 10 and 18.

The youth program at FPCA was my home for the summer. I lived, slept and breathed youth ministry. The church tasked me and my fellow intern to grow the youth program in numbers. They wanted to see it in all its “former glory” which occurred around 10 years ago, when society was different and so were our kids. My sense is that churches often get caught up in the past and forget to realize how much potential there is in the present.

For me, it is in the present that we must flourish. Our youth are the ones in the program right now, dealing with incredible daily issues of faith and conscience. Our churches want big happy youth programs but they want it without change to the rest of the church or congregational involvement. We need to recognize the incredible alteration that needs to happen in our church communities if we want to make a difference for the youth of today.

When we gave them the space to be in community with their friends and get active they came running to us with questions about their faith.

One of the most moving questions they asked me this summer was how to read the stories found in the Bible. We spent a weekend at the beach with our high schoolers unpacking the story of Jonah and how different parts of the story apply directly to our lives today. It was amazing to see how the kids gained a more comprehensive understanding of how to read the Bible and apply it to their everyday lives. When we spend time listening to kids and hear what they need we can more fully understand where they are in their faith and what they need the church to be in order to support them.

I’m inspired by Campolo Scholars like Brittney and learn something new every time I meet with them! I hope you’re encouraged by them as well, and by the mission and vision of the Campolo Center. Would you prayerfully consider making a generous gift now — as an investment in the development of thoughtful and committed young Christian leaders like Brittney?

 With gratitude and hope in Christ,

Robert Gauthier
Executive Director of Development