Relationships and Youth Ministry

What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.    –Ecclesiastes 1:9


Relationship is what we as humans are fundamentally designed for, and relationship is what fuels ministry.  Our triune God exists in perfect relationship as three persons who eternally pour into one another; and glory spills out of the utter goodness of this.   At the essence of this relationship is love, and scripture is the Greatest Love Story of all time – the story of a God who goes to great lengths and makes the greatest sacrifices to draw His people back into relationship with Himself.  His heart for His people is reconciliation, connection, and growth together in love.

So why bring up this word yet another time?  Relationship.

Well, it is an ever-evolving, ever-changing word just as culture around us is always changing.  The ways we relate to ourselves, God, and others are changing faster than ever as the technological revolution whisks us into new territories and platforms.  Basic communication has changed and is changing.  It takes much less effort to share communication, and there are less natural barriers to facilitate greater intentional thought and effort before communication is shared.  Dating happens for our kids through texting.  Parents text their kids instructions, reprimands, and potentially even their love.  The meaning of relationship is changing.  Consequently, the needs and directions of youth ministry are changing.

It is essential that we continue to teach scripturally on relationship, that we do face-to-face relationship, that we wander in and explore those primary three relationships – with God, self, and others.  And let us allow our kids to teach us about relationship.   My prayer is that we might ride the exponential technological growth wave with both humility and a raised eyebrow, allowing for its blessings to help foster relationship, and for its potential destructive tendencies to be exposed.  We are meant to live face-to-face, not in hiding (which may be behind screens).  This is one of the most basic things we can take from Adam and Eve’s response to God after the fall; they hid because of their shame.  Only the cross has the answer for that: He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed (1 Peter 2:24).

 Where do we hide?  How do we hide?  And how can we use the ‘why’s to invite our kids out of hiding?  Let us continue to wonder about the mystery of relationship- especially the One who is perfect Relationship- together, and to invite the kids we minister into the conversation.

Liz Edrington serves as the Fellowship Groups and Young Adults Director at North Shore Fellowship in Chattanooga, TN. She received her M.A. in Counseling from Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, FL, and she has worked with students in one form or another since 2002. She is an emeritus member of the Rooted steering committee, and she's the author of a 31-day devotional for teenagers called Anxiety: Finding the Better Story (P&R Publishing, 2023). Pickled things delight her, as does her snuggle beast, Bella the Dog.

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