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In this essay I will be looking at a number of different sources from the Bible and Christian theory to understand what is Godʼs wider mission, how I can program my work towards the young people in my local community by using Christ’s ministry as the model for the church, youth club and outreach programmes within the Christian youth work environment.
At the age of 19 I came to a conclusion that my life was an absolute mess just before I gave my life to Jesus. Taking drugs, dealing, going to raves, drinking, stealing, no interest in school, leaving with no GCSEs, getting into trouble with the police and having the odd fight. I thought all this was the worst but it was really wasn’t, not honouring my mum and dad was. I put y parents through hell lying to them, not telling them where I was going, staying out late and sometimes not coming home, being completely high on drugs. My nerves were so bad that the doctor was considering putting me on Valium. I can remember one day God spoke to me while I was high on drugs and told me to throw the drugs that I was hiding out the window. Three times he had to ask and on the third time I knew he wasn’t giving up, so I did.
One day I was on the run from the police because I crashed my car with no insurance, I just had enough, my whole life seemed to be crashing down around me. So a few days later I can remember standing in the middle of my bedroom up in the roof space and I asked God “if you are real please help me to cry” I was so unhappy and angry all the time. At least two hours I believed had passed and I was breaking my heart, in tears, I have never cried like it, then I realised God had answered my prayer. That day my life was changed forever. God revealed himself to me he give me a vision of a rose bud blooming in fast motion into a beautiful red rose I seen him standing holding my sisters hand and saying you will be with her again one day. My sister, Jacqueline was knocked down and killed at the age of two and unless I asked God for his forgiveness I would never be able to meet her. I knew that day God’s mission was to to tell everyone that Christ is real and I was to be part of that mission. My friends could not believe that I gave my life to Christ. In my heart the youth need to know about Christ to help them escape the pain that I had felt. The scales were lifted from my very eyes and I could see the kingdom of God. Just as Paul states the scales were also lifted for his eyes in Acts 9:18 “And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptised” I believed that God has called me out. The Mission was to go back to all the old clubs and out on the streets and tell the young people that Jesus is real.
David Bosch in his book Transforming Mission states the term mission as “a sender, a person or persons sent by the sender, those to whom one is sent, and an assignment.” (Bosch, 2011) In the Bible, John 20: 21, reads that we see the mission of Jesus Christ which he passed to his own disciples “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” (ESV Study Bible, 2008). From I came to know Christ I always believed that Christianity has always been an evangelical work, I believed that as a believer I had to go out and spread the word that God is real and to teach the Gospel in order to lead people into the kingdom of Heaven this has been implanted on my heart. Since the beginning after the fall, Godʼs mission was always to make things right again and to return mankind to his presence, made perfect. This is why, God sent Jesus to earth to be with the people and to minister to them before being crucified for the sins of the world. David Bosch states in citing the work of Heringʼs, “mission is, quite simply, the participation of Christians in the liberating”.
David Bosch makes the point that “The Christian faith, I submit, is intrinsically missionary, this dimension of the Christian faith is not an optional task” (Bosch, 2011) Christianity is a mission on its own nature or it denies its very purpose. Bosch helps us have a better understanding that as a Christian Youth worker is a fundamental requirement in our believing to engage in Gods mission and to be a witness to the community I work in and to everyone I come in contact with.
Godʼs mission in Matthew 28 is known to me as the Great Commission (ESV Study Bible, 2008) this has got to be the key and motivation behind the work I do for the young people. As a youth worker I need to have the knowledge of the great commission and I need to develop myself biblically and have a passion to evangelise to every young person that I come into contact within the local community as well as other places that I might be called too.
Regarding the church David Bosch stated that “There is church because there is mission and not vice versa.ʼThrough its nature and vocation, the church is a missionary community“ (Bosch, 2011) therefore mission should be natural to the very life and calling of the church. Moltmann also argues in agreement with David Bosch that “Mission does not come from the church; it is from mission that the church has to be understood”.(Jürgen Moltmann: The Church, 2020) meaning that the youth club or street work only exists due to Godʼs wider mission. Our youth group needs to understand that we are called to be a servant of Godʼs mission task in whatever community I find myself in and as David Bosch states “God is a missionary God, Godʼs people are a missionary people” (Bosch, 2011) God is a missionary God, so mission has to be seen and known as Godʼs move into the community and across the world. This is the exact opposite of how itʼs often viewed, which is that mission is the primary activity of the church.ʼ In order to sustain their faith in the mission and in Godʼs work, those in the ministry believe that the mission work belongs to God and that they are simply his instruments working in the world.
By using Bosch as my main reference point understanding his quote “The Christian faith is intrinsically missionary.” (Bosch, 2011) I can discuss how evangelising to the young people will work in Gods wider mission and also have a better understanding of the mission of Jesus Christ.
It is amazing news that God loves us so much so I need to impart that to the young people and into the community. But in a loving way and not to be forced upon.
Frost & Hirsch supports David Bosch in his arrangement by stating “we will see the church differently no longer as a religious institution but as a community of Jesus followers devoted to participating in his mission.” (Frost and Hirsch, 2009) As the youth worker I need to know that my work with the young people as participating in the mission of God by fulfilling restoration and reconciliation of all young people back to Him and also bringing hope to the community and wherever I go. Anything different from this I believe, that God is not at the centre of this mission but that I’m doing this on my own. It’s well for me to have plans and have an agenda but I need to remember the sole purpose has to be for the young people and the community to encounter Jesus, It is also important that as my role as a youth worker I am clear about what the mission of God is before I even think about engaging with the young people and community.
My role as a Youth worker is that it is important for me to have a understanding need toward the young people and have an impact, building relationships is a massive key factor and must be developed with time and consistency. My role model Jesus keeps reminding me of the relationship he has with his own Father God in heaven, While Jesus was on the Earth throughout his ministry he forever spoke about his relationship with everyone he came in contact with believers and non believers as well as his disciples. Relationship is so important within the mission, in the New Testament The relationships that we build will have a massive impact on the life of others especially within the community, neighbours, young people and will help the broken-hearted but it is so important that I personally keep my relationship ongoing with Jesus and meet with him every day by praying studying his word. Mike Breen writes, “Relationships are the only means we have of enabling and encouraging young people to reach maturity in their physical, emotional, social and spiritual lives.” (Harrington, n.d.) As a Youth worker I needed to create an environment or community where I can practice showing the love of Christ right under the young peopleʼs noses; I am always looking for ways to need to look to make God known for the young people I am working with, Hirsch helped me understand “presence highlights the role of relationships in mission” (Hirsch, n.d.) if relationship is the key this means in the transfer of the gospel, then it simply means we are going to have to be directly present to the young people in our community. Our very lives are our message and we cannot take ourselves out of the equation of mission. The kingdom of God was central to Christ wider mission.”
As part of my evangelistic methods within my placement I needed to begin too help the young people open up about God with the work and programs that I do with them. Most young people like music so I began to teach worship and prayer before all the activities. The best example and easiest example that I believed that I could use was the Lordʼs prayer and before each day of youth club I would have asked if anyone would like to play a worship song or say the Lord’s Prayer. Some young people enjoyed stepping up and some young people were happy just to listen.
Matthew 6, 9 -13, Jesus showed his disciples how to pray to the father with the Lords Prayer. (ESV Study Bible, 2008). In the community where I work from, there is a great need to get the young people to believe in the word of God. However, this can be difficult as we are in an age of rising secularism. My aim as youth worker is to meet with the young people before they completely form a secular/humanist belief although some already had and had no interest in any kind of faith whatsoever. I needed to help the young person gain an understanding on how to belong to something, feel loved in order so that they may gain a taste of what it would be like to be in a relationship with Jesus. I believe, that showing the young people that they belong and feel loved the young person would encounter God, receive hope and began to believe in themselves. After all this is the purpose of my mission.
Incarnation and crucifixion go both hand in hand, this is my mission. Incarnation is meeting with young people where they are at themselves with the Bible and faith. God gives us an example to go by when he give us Jesus for the forgiveness of sins. In John 1:14 states “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (ESV Study Bible, 2008) Hirsch stated “if Godʼs central way of reaching his world was to incarnate himself in Jesus, then our way of reaching the world should likewise be incarnational” (Missional-Incarnational Impulse, 2020) As the youth worker I am trying to help the young people with life’s challenges and life’s struggles, Frost argues that “we must take seriously the call to live incarnationally right up close, near to those whom God desires to redeem.”
(Frost, n.d.) According to Bosch, ‘The churches, by and large have an underdeveloped theology of the incarnation [while] the churches of the east have always taken the incarnation more seriouslyʼ (Bosch, 2011)
Paulʼs mission in the scriptures was not just to practice evangelism and church planting but he longed to build communities of believers who could think biblically through an ethical culture.ʼ David Bosch gives a great understanding stating that “Evangelism is only possible when the community that evangelises is a radiant manifestation of the Christian faith and exhibits an attractive lifestyle”. (Bosch, 2011). The young people that I have been working with don’t want to hear me just talk but they need to see me live a lifestyle that attracts them to faith, leading by example, enjoying my life but also not be frightened to share my difficult times, not going too personal in my life. James 2 : 18 says “But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.” (ESV Study Bible, 2008)
Paul summarises the incarnational message in 1 Corinthian 9: 19-23 “for the sake of the gospel he will become all things to every tribe, people or culture as long as he is able to win as many as possible”. (ESV Study Bible, 2008) Graham Cray writes ‘Youth ministry has become a matter of cross-cultural mission. It involves entering into the young peopleʼs world and honouring them by taking it as seriously as they do”. (Subworth, Cray, and Russell, 2007)
As a youth worker I need to be creative and imaginative in my mission work with the young people and community in the way that I present the message of Jesus to them. For example, I organised a program called the “The Big Question”. I started the six week program with the first question, Do you believe that there is a God? That one question went on for the six weeks, I was totally amazed how interested the young people were. I need to help them find Christ ‘exactly were they are’ and equip them to be part of the kingdom of God. The biggest message of the New Testament is Christ making an effect on all people through the power of redemption (setting free from sin). John 3: 16 teaches how the everliving, giving God through incarnation brought Christ to the whole world not leaving one soul out. (ESV Study Bible, 2008).
In my setting everyone gets involved with what God is offering. I found that on the rota some young people might have finished jobs faster than others but the young people are always prepared to step up and help others who are not finished. Its encouraging that the young people use their own initiative to help and not have to be asked.
To have a better understanding of what mission and church really means the place to begin is within myself, I must know, except and believe that Jesus Christ is in my heart and believe that he and only he is my Lord and Saviour. All love comes from God, he is love and he longs to share it with his people so that we can share it with others.
When I refer back to what mission is within my setting, its values, practice and approach is this, it is not just about feelings, as love is not a feeling but an act of ones will. If I personally were to only act on feelings I would not have the same passion as I do for the young people and the community. I found that knowing who I am in Christ, being able to listen to God and the young people when we eat together during our sessions which allows the young people to chat informally about whatever they wish. We show the young people that we as a youth club bless the by organising events for them and show the love with the hope that when they go into the community they will do the sae to others. Finally and importantly we teach them to rest just as God rested on the 7th day. We teach them how to not be stressed with their lifes so when they leave the youth club they can again practice these skills. The mission is the youth and the community recognise our mission and desire more. When we practice these characteristics our aim is to pass on to the young people in the youth club and the community so they will pass on what our actions are to show their families, teachers and other people that hold some type of authority the same respect and love that we show them.
The characteristics of the church is that we as Christians are the church. The church is not a building but is within us. So we then bring the church out in to the streets, to the communities to love one another, pray for one another, celebrate with one another, serve one another, proclaim to the world that Jesus is Lord and be a sacrifice onto others.
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