Every week this year we are exploring our theme “The People.” Today we hear about….
“The People I hope my students are becoming”
Tim Schindler serves as the Associate Pastor of Youth and Ministry Development at Georgetown Baptist Church in Georgetown, Kentucky where he lives with his wife and four awesome kids. He studied at the University of Kentucky and Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, KY and has been in youth ministry for 17 years, with the last eight at GBC. In addition to student ministry, Tim also leads the church’s contemporary worship music. Follow him on Twitter @timschindler.
In my first year as youth pastor at Georgetown Baptist Church, like every good youth group around the country, I decided we needed t-shirts. T-shirts are great, right? They are a fun way to build belonging and share a little about your group. Every year since, I will introduce our students to a theme for the year—a word or phrase or image—along with a central scripture passage that frames a focus for the year.
What came out of that for my first year was simply the word “becoming.” For me, this was a powerful way to talk about the unique stage of life this group of students were experiencing. After all, adolescence is characterized by monumental changes that determine who they are becoming as individuals. They are experiencing huge transformation physically, psychologically, relationally, and emotionally. They are making choices that will determine important parts of the rest of their lives. This is one of the challenges of youth ministry, but it is also a large part of what makes this kind of work so important and meaningful for me.
Thinking about what my students are becoming has continued to guide me for the past nine years as I work with my students. I try to be intentional in helping them become the amazing men and women God has created them to be—specifically who they are becoming inwardly (their identity) and who they are becoming outwardly (their character)
Identity development is mysterious, I admit. But for my part, I hope they are hearing the adults we place around them speak into their lives who they are—that they are a deeply loved child of God! “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1) And that as a child of God they are wonderfully and beautifully created, that they are fully accepted for who they are, that God’s love redeems their brokenness, and that their heavenly Father is never giving up on them no matter what else happens. I hope that they are becoming young women and men who create for themselves an identity that is founded on a faith in and a love for Jesus in which they feel closely connected with other believers, seeing themselves as a part of the body of Christ with unique gifts, abilities, and talents to offer in service to the Kingdom.
Developing who they are becoming inwardly is huge, but I believe it will also guide who they are becoming outwardly; it will shape students’ actions. So for example, if they truly believe they are already deeply loved, they will be freed up to love others without concern for their own need to feel loved and accepted.
I want to help them put who they are into action so that they become people who exhibit their identity through the small selfless acts, as well as those radical examples of faith, laying down their lives for the sake of others. I want to give them opportunities to display the fruit of the Spirit through the daily ins and outs of life. I want them to develop the habit of showing grace and offering endless forgiveness. And I want them to become creative in redeeming the world—walking the extra mile, turning the other cheek, giving the extra tunic—partnering with God to reclaim the world.
1 Timothy 4:12 says, “ Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” This is the person that I hope my students are becoming.