I was not born and raised in a church. My parents did not go and the only exposure I had to the church setting was going with my grandparents on major holidays and events. That changed my sophomore year of high school. I was invited to go to Bible study by several of my friends who were members and part of the youth group at First Christian Church Richmond. Bible study turned into youth group, youth group turned into Sunday services, and Sunday services turned into mission trips and summers spent at camp. That was 17 years ago.
For the last 13 years I’ve had the privilege of working with the youth ministry program at FCC Richmond and for the last 3 of those years I have worked part time as the Youth Director, where I have been the primary faith person for the youth of the church. I am where I am today all because someone invited me to a youth Bible study. Someone took time to get to know me and invested in me. Someone committed to making me a part of FCC.
At a board meeting in the fall of 2012 our congregation accepted the resignations of both our Senior Minister and our Associate Minister. During that meeting I was asked if I would be staying to work with the youth, or if I too would be leaving. Without hesitation, I promptly told them I wasn’t going anywhere. I went on to explain that the high school youth at the time had been through 2 senior ministers, 4 associate ministers and a student from LTS. Seven different people had come and gone in their lives over the past 7 to 10 years, and that didn’t count the sponsors that had been a part of the program. I had been the only constant in their church life, and I couldn’t walk away from them now. I had invested not only my time, but my heart into the group and I was committed 100%.
As I look back over the last 3 years, I often ask myself what in the world I was thinking at that meeting. But then I remember the investment and commitment that the youth minister and church put into me 17 years ago. How can we expect a group of youth to commit to the church, if the church doesn’t commit to them? How can we expect a group of youth to invest in the church, if the church doesn’t invest in them?
President John F. Kennedy once stated “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” Today, I ask not what my youth can do for the church, but what can my church do for the youth.” It all starts with investment and commitment.
Pam Grant is the lay youth leader at First Christian Church in Richmond, Kentucky.