Janessa Giesbrecht is the passionate and articulate youth pastor at Fort Garry MB Church here in Winnipeg. (She’s also an amazing van driver.) Here are a few of my thoughts in response to her presentation.
“We live in a Google world.” Well, no kidding! Of course, we all know that. But wait a second. Do you know any children or youth? Have you noticed how Google is the starting place for any and every question? Teens are able to get a lot of information about sexuality, both helpful and harmful. Janessa suggested that the church isn’t making the younger generations “works cited” list. As a pastor, I’m convicted. What will I do to provide helpful and true information to the children and youth in our congregation? Lord, help me!
“Are we ministering out of anxiety or love?” Janessa compared the extremes of anxiety and love as the driving force for ministry. Referencing Mark Yaconelli, she shared that leading while anxious results in providing concrete answers, looking first to results, and convincing youth to simply do what we tell them to do. Love, on the other hand, values process, is relational, asks questions, and is present with people. Too often, we are motivated by anxiety instead of by love. As a pastor, I’m convicted. I want to be more loving and much less anxious. Lord, help me!
“Sex is only a small part of sexuality.” Again, no kidding! But, why is it that we tend to focus so much on sex in our “sex talks” to youth? We must address so MUCH more than simply how far is too far in our physical relationships. We must recognize the topic is broad and impacts all of us. Some youth are sexually active, others have been abused; some struggle with gender identification, others are addicted to pornography or masturbation. As a pastor, I’m convicted. I need to study, prepare, and be bold to teach about the broad topic of sexuality. Lord, help me!
“Silence screams.” Is there a lonely silence in our churches? Are we paying attention to what is NOT being talked about? It saddens me that perhaps we may be sending (or have sent) a message that the church is a place for perfection, rather than a place for conversation, struggles, safety, and welcome. Is the church a safe place for youth today? Again, as a pastor, I’m convicted. Am I contributing to the silence? Lord, help me!
I’ve been challenged to address this topic without fear. For me, writing “youth” or “teens” is too impersonal. My sons are 11 and 10 years old. As a father, this hits home, and I’m convicted. Lord, help me!
—Leonard Klassen serves as an associate pastor at King Road Church in Abbotsford. He has been challenged and stretched during this Study Conference. Let’s talk.