Parents are given the direct responsibility of passing faith in the Living God and His Son, Jesus Christ from generation to generation to their children and grandchildren.
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:4-9)
The Church partners with parents in the vital ministry of passing faith in Jesus from generation to generation. It's why churches like ours have children's and youth ministries. We want our children and teenagers to encounter the Living God, develop a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and build an adult faith that will handle the challenges and storms of real life.
This has been and will continue to be a top-five priority at Dayton United Methodist Church! The order of importance changes, depending on the season of life for the church. But the most important things we do include worship, prayer, children's ministry, youth ministry, and missions. It's what we do and who we are!
Dayton UMC has a rich history of youth ministry, which we call Overhaul. We have been blessed with a long line of committed, Christ-like, passionate youth pastors, and students have, indeed, had their lives Overhauled by the saving grace of Jesus Christ.
God has used Sunday meetings, Bible studies, summer church camp, serving at Vacation Bible School, mission trips, serving at Food Truck (our monthly food distribution ministry), leading worship on youth Sundays, and many other means to deeply affect teenage lives. And God has used our students to challenge, encourage and bless our entire congregation through their worship participation, their example of self-giving service, and their faith lived out both within our congregation and beyond the walls of our church.
Thirty-five students, led by a passionate team of adult leaders and our youth pastor, Caleb Cornell, traveled to Camp Lakewood (our United Methodist elementary church camp located at Wolcottville, Indiana) a couple of weeks ago for a Mission Trip/Church Camp to build a tree house and put in seats for an outdoor worship center, and to grow in the fire of their faith in God. They worked, worshiped, prayed and played, and they came home FIRED UP!
We have an annual tradition at Dayton UMC of a Youth Sunday when our students lead worship and share with the congregation what God did at elementary, middle school, and high school camps over the summer. Those camps were suspended this summer due to COVID-19. This Mission Trip to Lakewood became a substitute camp experience for our middle school and senior high students, and allowed them to invest in the campground where our children attend summer church camp.
Youth Sunday is today, August 9, and I am fired up to hear what God did in the lives of our students and through their lives to bless Camp Lakewood. If you live near Dayton, Indiana, I hope you will join us at 8:00, 9:30 or 11:00 to experience the passion and joy of our teenagers on Youth Sunday. We livestream 8:00 and 9:30 worship services, so if you live further away or cannot be in worship in person today, you will be able to participate through the livestream or watch the video at your leisure at our church Facebook page, facebook.com/daytonumchurch.
Beyond attending Youth Sunday, I hope you will do what you can to pass on faith in Jesus Christ to the next generations. Pray for your own children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Love them well. Teach them the Bible. Model following Jesus with passion and commitment. Pray for our youth pastor and the adult leaders of Overhaul. Your life will be richer and our calling to pass the faith from our generation to the next generations will be fulfilled. And God will be pleased.