In this monthly column we hear from young people in our church about the ministries and mission they are part of – and how we in the LCA can better engage with youth in our communities.
Growing up in a Christian household, Thomas Schubert has always seen faith as a natural part of his life. But while his family and congregation are crucial influences on his walk with God, it was only by going away from home that Thomas, 17, came to feel part of a broader church.
When I was two, my family moved from Tom Price in Western Australia’s Pilbara region to Rockingham, 40 minutes south of Perth, and we were welcomed into the Rockingham-Mandurah Lutheran Church community.
Being connected to a Christian community is a necessity, as you become like those around you and, with the nature of today’s secular society, that can be dangerous.
My parents and my brother Matt, who coordinates our youth ministry, are huge influences on my faith, representing Christ for me in daily life.
God has also grown me, both spiritually and in character, through Splash Youth and plus (young adults ministry), where I can talk about faith with people of similar ages and feel a real sense of community, encouragement and support. The majority of attendees at Splash are from Living Waters Lutheran College at Warnbro, the school associated with the congregation where I am currently completing Year 12.
Knowing God is continually changing my life through my faith journey, it’s my hope that other youth would come to know and become more like Christ. This has motivated me to lead the Year 8 boys Connect Group, as part of our church youth.
I believe young people should play an active part in church, not just for their own benefit, but also for older members, who I have found become encouraged and more active, feeding off the enthusiasm of the youth. A good way to find that enthusiasm is to start by doing what you are gifted in and passionate about. I work part-time as a portrait photographer and I have a passion that I transfer into serving, by photographing things such as youth nights, special services and baptisms.
I am so grateful for the encouragement of our congregation, which embraces and values youth and young adults, but my perspective on the church was broadened in April 2018, when I attended the Grow Ministries National Youth Forum.
I was eager to discuss issues the church is facing and to share my own struggles and ideas. Coming from Western Australia, I had underestimated the magnitude of the Lutheran church. It was refreshing to know that we belong to a wider community which is passionate about Jesus.
At the forum we were free to share honestly and meeting with some church leaders was fantastic. What I valued most was that questioning was encouraged and we were able to challenge and seek clarification on points made by presenters. It was such a valuable experience and I really appreciated the opportunity. We all have a shared love of Christ and the forum showed there are passionate youth within the Lutheran church – which is very exciting for the future.
Thomas Schubert is a member at Rockingham-Mandurah Lutheran Church, in Western Australia.
How can the LCA engage more effectively with young people?
If youth feel valued, this will bear fruit. I would love to see a greater emphasis on personal relationships, encouraging mentorship in which older people invest in a young person’s life by sharing wisdom and helping them to realise that people care. I would also like to see greater encouragement for youth to serve within the church, therefore ensuring they have a purpose and value.