[Christ] we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me. (Col 1.28-29)
The purpose of our youth ministry is to lead our young people into mature Christian adulthood. The discipleship of young people happens in both the nuclear family and the extended church family. Parents have a central role in our youth ministry, because God has called parents to disciple their children (Deut 6.4-7 and Eph 6.4). We are committed to (1) supporting parents as they lead their children into mature Christian adulthood, (2) fostering our young people’s participation in the communal life of the church, and (3) age-specific teaching and the development of peer-relationships.
Young people are growing up in isolation from the generation that preceded them. Sociologists have coined terms like “generation gap,” “youth culture,” and “alienation” to describe this new social reality. Many teenagers have little or no interaction with their parents or any other adults in their day-to-day lives. This social reality is reflected in many churches, where youth programs isolate teenagers from the rest of the congregation. Youth culture is peer-centred and teenagers grow up learning from one another, rather than from the older, wiser generation (cf. 1 Kings 12). The result is that teenagers grow up relationally, mentally, and morally unprepared for the challenges of adulthood. (How many marriages end for the same reasons teenage dating-relationships end?) Thus, we believe it is imperative that we (1) help parents carry out their calling to disciple their children and (2) provide opportunities for our young people to interact and learn from older, mature Christians in our congregation.
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. (Deut 6.4-7; cf. Deut 11.18-21)
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Eph 6.4)
Every Christian family ought to be as it were a little church, consecrated to Christ, and wholly influenced and governed by his rules. And family education and order are some of the chief of the means of grace. If these fail, all other means are likely to prove ineffectual. If these are duly maintained, all the means of grace will be likely to prosper and be successful. (Jonathan Edwards, “Farewell Sermon,” preached on 22 June 1750).
Westminster Chapel is committed to equipping parents, especially fathers, in their calling to lead their children into mature Christian adulthood. Ministry to families is one of our core values. We seek to equip families by expounding and applying the Word of God in accurate and practical ways (especially in our preaching) and by encouraging an atmosphere of mutual accountability, confession, love, acceptance and forgiveness (especially in our covenant groups). We encourage regular family devotions and discussion of Sunday morning sermons.
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body – Jews or Greeks, slaves or free – and all were made to drink of one Spirit. 14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. (1 Cor 12.12-14)
The apostle Paul compares the church to a body, in which there is unity (one body) and diversity (many members). Each body part is necessary to the integrity of the whole body. If any part is cut off, the body is disabled and deformed and the severed part is cut off from the life of the body. We believe that our young people should be integrated in the communal life of the church. Such integration is twofold. On the one hand, young people should be involved in the various ministries of the church (music, choir, ushering, nursery, children’s ministry, community service and outreach, women’s Bible study, prayer meetings and concerts, etc.). On the other hand, we encourage older Christians to connect with and support younger Christians (mentoring, prayer-partnership, teaching, etc.). The extended church family plays an important role in leading our young people into mature adulthood (see Titus 2.1-5).
While we emphasize the role of older Christians, especially parents, in the discipleship of young people, we also recognize the importance of developing peer-relationships and providing age-specific teaching. Our youth meet bi-weekly for teaching and fun and games. We also organize and participate in special social events (annual retreats, youth rallies, etc.) and teaching events (guest speakers, conferences, etc.). These events are a supplement not a substitute to family discipleship and corporate worship on Sunday mornings.
This is a photo from the October 2018 youth retreat: