By Jeff Dalrymple
I was privileged to be raised in a Christian home. I didn’t personally become a born-again Christian until the age of 19, but my childhood experiences of growing up in the church had a profound influence on my life. Attending Sunday School, AWANA, Wednesday evening services, and youth group events impacted in a far greater way than I realized at the time. One of the men that had a particularly strong role in shaping me was Kris Stire. Kris was an adult leader in our youth group that never hesitated to go out of his way to pick up students and give them a ride to church. He drove a tiny Honda CR-X compact car that technically seated four people, but we would often cram in several others so no one would be left out without a way to participate in church activities. Kris would counsel us, challenge us, pray for us, and lead by example.
I’ll never forget the Wednesday night when Kris and I were on our way back from church. He had dropped all of the other students off, leaving only Kris and myself for the final leg of the journey home. As we made our way down a busy Los Angeles freeway, we came across a woman stranded on the side of the road after running out of gas. She was attempting to flag someone down for help, yet all of the other cars just zipped on by. Kris took the opportunity to demonstrate the true spirit of Christianity and the Gospel. He pulled the car over, and we helped the woman get gas and get back on the road. That selfless act of kindness exemplified the Biblical attributes of a servant’s heart. Kris, along with many others, recognized the urgent importance of ministering to teens and young adults in the most formative years of their lives. Youth ministers are tasked with the enormous responsibility of training the next generation of Christian leaders, a duty which is imperative in the growth and maturation of the church.
Today’s youth face a minefield of challenges in their adolescent years, many of which are the same struggles encountered by the generations that came before them. They are devastated by the effects of peer pressure, premarital sex, broken families, bullying, awkwardness, insecurities, and more. Amidst all of these trials, many are left searching for any type of comfort and relief. Some try to remedy the trauma that they have endured by turning to drugs and alcohol, which only leads them further into despair. This is why adopting a Biblical philosophy of youth ministry is more important than ever. By intervening and counseling the young victims of adversity, we can provide them with the only true source of hope in the world, the Gospel. The entire purpose of the church is to glorify God, which is accomplished by changing lives and the salvation of souls. Man was created in the image of God and created to worship God, in communities of believers to present ourselves as united in Christ, just as Colossians 1:24-29 commands.
The adolescent years are full of life lessons, both good and bad. It is perhaps the most formative stage in life, and bridges the gap from childhood to adulthood. Consequently, there is no better time to minister to those who have yet to know Christ. Providing students with sound Biblical teaching and positive role models can drastically change the trajectory of their lives. Teaching isn’t limited to the confines of the sanctuary, leading by example in real life scenarios is also integral to establishing the fundamentals of Biblical living in the minds of students. Effective ministry during these chaotic and formative years can have a greater influence than even the students may understand in the moment.