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.
When Ben Schubert decided it was time to take a step back from the youth ministry roles he’d been serving in at congregational, district and community levels early last year, little did he know that God had a new path of service mapped out for him. And he’s now one of two 20-somethings on the LCA’s SA–NT District Church Council.
In my 20 years of education, I’ve found that challenges are what make journeying worthwhile. Many times in my life I’ve arrived at a fork in the road: one side is the rugged, untamed, foreboding wild, while the other is straight, clear, and predictable. There’s an obvious question … which path is worth travelling?
I’m a recently married (to Zoe) 25-year-old PhD candidate in pursuit of God. I have a Bachelor of Engineering (Honours, Mechanical) and a Bachelor of Science (Experimental and Theoretical Physics). Learning about the richness and order upon which this world is created deepened my faith through my studies. I was struck by the shallowness of the juxtaposition between faith and science, and that, in truth, they complemented one another.
That head-realisation that God created this incredibly intricate world founded on order from chaos, and yet sacrificed everything to redeem his fallen creation, led to the heart-realisation that God is worth seeking with my whole being.
Last year I began to move on from youth ministry roles I’d been serving for the past seven years, such as Christian Life Week and NOVO school-aged camps, youth leading, and the interdenominational Green Team and Big Week Out.
I was then asked to serve on District Church Council, where I could offer a youthful view into the decision-making process within the South Australian and Northern Territory District of the LCA/NZ, along with Eric Marschall, who’s also in his 20s. I started attending monthly meetings in May 2018.
This opportunity not only opened me to the daily challenges we face as a church, but also to the love practised daily by Jesus’ followers throughout this body. I’ve enjoyed better understanding and supporting ministries outside of the youth sphere. But if it wasn’t for an older friend tapping me on the shoulder, I might’ve missed God’s path.
I believe there’s a deep thirst among young people to be valued contributors within a community. Furthermore, most young people I meet are yearning to discuss their beliefs, and how these relate to contemporary issues.
I wonder whether we’ve somehow missed those honest discussions within God’s house. If we forgo difficult conversations for easy ones, it’s like we’re handing over a map to life with only the joyous moments marked. This makes it very difficult when we’re challenged with hardship, and more likely that we’ll get disorientated!
Throughout my journeys I’ve learned that though God always walks with us, there might be a reason he’s asking us to take the wild or unpredictable path. This could mean challenging ourselves to engage with young people where they’re residing, or stepping aside to grow others into various roles, which frees us for new exciting directions. For a young person, this does mean taking a risk, challenging yourself to take on more responsibility and, in the process, finding where God is leading you.
Ben Schubert is a member at St John’s Lutheran Church Unley in South Australia.
How can the LCA/NZ engage more effectively with young people?
Investing in the hearts of our young people by providing opportunities to become load-bearing contributors to vital decisions within our church communities. This means being ready to sacrifice time, effort, and comfort to speak the gospel into contemporary issues and empower young people to invest their hearts into Christ’s kingdom.
This feature story comes from The Lutheran August 2019. Visit the website to find out more about The Lutheran or to subscribe.