By: Crystal Mazzuca
Who am I?
What makes me “me”?
What is my purpose in life?
These are questions that young people are asking every day. Teenagers, elementary students, and even preschoolers are bombarded with messages about who they are, what they should believe, and who they can trust.
How should we, as the church, respond? How can we help these confused and overwhelmed “seekers” who are longing for identity? And how can the gospel help us?
When we share the gospel with young people, we do it with the hope and desire that they will make a forever decision to repent of sin and trust in Jesus as their Lord and Savior. But the gospel is so much more that!
When we look at the gospel as a way to shape the identity of children rather than limiting it to good news that we want them to say yes to, we will see Jesus work in their hearts in amazing ways to show them who they are and whose they are.When we look at the gospel as a way to shape the identity of children rather than limiting it to good news that we want them to say yes to, we will see Jesus work in their hearts in amazing ways to show them who they are and… Click To Tweet
God Created You
Our first stop with young people is sharing that they are fearfully and wonderfully made by a Creator—on purpose and for a purpose. It doesn’t matter who their parents are, what their culture is, or anything that they have or haven’t done—they have a Father in heaven who made them and wants to have a relationship with them. They aren’t an accident. They don’t have to prove themselves or figure things out. Their identity starts in their creation.
While the world can make children afraid that if they say the wrong thing or make the wrong choice they will be rejected, their Father in heaven who created them isn’t fickle like that. In fact, He knows that they will fail. And yet, He loves them anyway. He doesn’t cancel them. He doesn’t reject them. While they were still sinners, He died for them. Why? Because He loves them that much, and nothing will ever change that.
Safe Now and Forever
Young people are aching to know that they have a place to belong where they can be themselves. Jesus offers that to them. When they come to Him, they are adopted into His family. They can be weird and wild or quiet and quirky—He is going to love having them with Him. They don’t have to pretend that they are someone they are not. They are loved just as they are.
Patience and Kindness
When kids are a part of God’s family, they don’t have to figure things out right away. No one is expecting them to be perfect, to have all the answers, and never to question anything. Rather, God patiently walks with them day in and day out, lifting them up when they stumble, forgiving them when they mess up, and loving them even when they struggle and doubt.
Live It Out in Community
One of the best parts of saying yes to Jesus is that young people are invited into a family filled with messy, imperfect, trying-to-figure-it-out people just like them. There are no expectations to have everything figured out or to be perfect. Rather, they get to explore, adventure, struggle, fail, and succeed within a community of others who are doing the same. And the best part is that the acceptance in this community has nothing to do with what they do or don’t do but with who Jesus is.
Everyone Is Welcome
Finally, we get to help young people see that this is a place where everyone is welcome. When groups in our culture say you’re either in or out based on a whole list of things, Jesus says He loves you just because He does, and He wants you with Him just because He does. You get to be you because you are His—and He loves you.
When we share the gospel with young people, let’s remember that it’s so much more than a one-time faith decision. We have the amazing opportunity to help them see that a relationship with Jesus impacts and influences everything about them. He is the answer to everything they want, and He’s waiting for them with open arms. The gospel transforms their hearts and, as a result, grants them the identity and belonging they are longing for.
Crystal Mazzuca is a Content Editor for Lifeway’s Hyfi and Kids’ Short Term Studies. With an MA in Christian Education Administration, she has a passion to encourage and equip leaders to impact the next generation for Christ. She’s spent the last 20 years in Kids, Student, and Family Ministry and loves serving both the big C church and her local church in Olympia, WA. Crystal loves reading, going to the beach, and playing video games with her 3 sons.