Russia (MNN) – When you think about youth ministry, do you think of nights spent entertaining young people with fun games? Well, this isn’t the case for churches in Russia. In fact, in Russia, it’s the youth who are the arms and legs of the local churches.
Slavic Gospel Association’s Eric Mock recalls talking to youths at a conference in the United States where they relayed to him their many talents. However, they didn’t have an outlet in the Church to use the gifts God has given them.
“I think a lot of times in the Church if we train the youths to either be entertained or to just sit in the pews until they get older, when they’re older, they will either look for a church that’s entertaining or find one where they can just sit in the pews,” Mock says.
However, something different is taking place in Russian churches.
A new youth program
“They’re instituting a program that we support through the Youth in Ministry program that not only focuses on the spiritual development of youths, but also enables them to serve alongside the missionary pastors and the different outreach opportunities that they have through these local churches.” Mock shares.
The new concept for Youth in Ministry is in place and support will begin. Simply, the support of SGA partners provides for the National Youth Ministry team in Moscow to more directly train and equip youth leaders in key locations, for the youth leaders to invest more in their own youth, and to provide a means for them to reach out once a month. (Photo/Caption courtesy of Slavic Gospel Association via Facebook)
While the term youths refer to ages 12 to 18 in the United States, the term in Russia refers to ages 17 to 30. And, these youths aren’t looked at as the future generation of ministry, but the present.
In fact, Mock reports that 80 percent of the people doing outreach in Russia are youths.
“So what I’m talking about here are people that are in their 20s. They might have families, and they are giving their lives sold out for the sake of the Gospel,” Mock says.
Mock had the opportunity to travel amongst churches in Russia during his recent trip to the country. He was able to see first-hand youths who have not been raised in Christian families, but who are excited to learn how to live as a Christian– including serving inside and outside of the Church.
“They say, ‘Put me in the game. How can I be used by God in a way where I make a difference and give that glory to God?’” Mock shares. “And they are serving. They are teaching Sunday school. Young men are being taught to preach and they’re preaching in churches.”
Investing in the youth
So, how does support through SGA help? By equipping leaders and helping provide resources for both youths and outreach through its Youth in Ministry program.
“So the impact of equipping these youths has been that they are enabled to do the work of ministry among a majority of the churches,” Mock shares. “Again, it kind of circles back to what I mentioned before: if we have a church that is not active in serving, especially involving the kids in being active in serving, then as they get older…they’re less likely to want to be a part of ministry.”
(Map courtesy SGA)
And that pattern leaves the bulk of ministry on the pastors. Mock points out the simple fact that these younger generations tend to have a little more time and a lot more energy to give to ministry outreach.
But, it’s this sweet spot where the youth’s energy intersects with the wisdom of the older generations in the Church that helps ministry outreach not only be successful, but also to grow and persevere.
“How might the Church advance when people of all ages are seeing that the cause for Christ– the proclamation of the Gospel– outweighs anything else that this world can provide,” Mock says.
How to help
Through SGA’s program, Youth in Ministry, you can help youths with outreach. Your support goes towards producing literature for devotions, providing training for local and national leaders, and providing essential tangible resources for ministry.
“I would even call probably half of this ministry a training ministry,” Mock explains. “And the other half a disciple-making ministry through sending them out to serve.”
Please pray for these youths and the youth leaders. Pray for their encouragement and faithfulness, and for them to continue to be equipped for ministry. Also, pray for them to not be brought down or distracted by the things of this world.
To learn more about Youth in Ministry, click here!
Donate to SGA’s Youth in Ministry program here!