Transforming Our Youth

December 28, 2021

by Judy Burnett

Every year in early March during Sunday school, when planning for Youth Sunday begins, I observe the first stage of a transformation.  It begins with what I would call the “not me” stage.  When we start talking about writing the various parts of the service, all goes well until we discuss the part where the youth actually lead the congregation. Many of the youth, especially the 7th and 8th graders, don’t even have to say “not me” because it is written all over their faces.  For many, the idea of standing before a sanctuary full of people is a nonstarter.

After planting that seed, we quickly move on to writing the parts of the service.  And here is where the transformation begins.  Once the youth have invested themselves in creating the service, they begin to feel a sense of ownership.  They are proud of what they have written and are surprised to find that suddenly the idea of being a liturgist doesn’t sound so scary.  I like to sit on the front row to observe the newly discovered confidence up close.

A year later, however, a measure of that confidence fades, but as we start the process again, we knowingly anticipate the inevitable transformation.  During their senior year, the final iteration of the yearly transformation suddenly escalates to a new level as they are invited to write and deliver sermons.  The challenge of addressing the congregation with insightful interpretation of scripture is daunting for some and elicits at least a few moments of self-doubt in all of them.  My confidence in them is absolute, because I know the end of the story. 

On Youth Sunday, from my first pew vantage point, I see mature young adults who have accomplished something that began for many as a “not me” moment, and I feel sure that most of them encountered God along the way.

Each year as they give the benediction, I am reminded of all the things I love about youth:  their unbridled enthusiasm, their strong belief that good will triumph over evil, their passion to make the world a better place and their resolute intention to love boldly.  It is always in that moment that I  encounter God once again.

To share your gifts with our Youth Ministry, contact Rev. Sarah Are at or 214.368.6348 ext 143.

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