Many modern Chinese believers have cast off the stereotype of "old and weak, women and children, and illiterates". Many young believers came to the church as intellectuals and professionals. Young believers brought fresh blood as well as vigor and vitality to the church, but also put the church in a pasturing challenge. Many churches established young adult fellowships to liven up the service, change the worship pattern and adjust the sermon to adapt to the new trend. How to develop the 21st century Christians and help them know Jesus, take root in truth, and devote themselves to the church remains the focus of the young believer pasturing work.
Haixiu Christian Church is a microcosm of the modern Chinese urban churches. The church is in downtown Haikou with half of the congregation being young believers, both Chinese and foreign. There are three fellowships in Haixiu Church with young believers: the worship and praise fellowship, the young adult fellowship and the international fellowship. The worship and praise fellowship consists of 16 21st century believers. They are in charge of the praise ministry of Sunday worship and other major events and they will organize outdoor praise, fellowship activities, and occasional prayer meetings. The young adult fellowship consists of 40 young believers with Bible study once a week and occasional fellowship activities. The international fellowship consists of 60 international students from 18 countries, and there is English worship every Sunday afternoon.
Given that the majority of the congregants are young believers in Haixiu Church, the pasturing work for young people has three aspects:
1. Rooted in the Bible and Developing Lives
The church pastoral staff and the core youth service both think that in order to lead and tend these young people, they must be rooted in the truth, have healthy spiritual growth and testimonies in their lives. God saved these young souls at their early stage of life and they became Christians and His disciples.
We need to guide the young believers to understand that without God's salvation, life will be full of darkness, disappointment, misery and chaos. Instead, with God's amazing mercy we became his children. Not only did they receive this unexpected grace, but by these young people God will also bless their families, friends, classmates and neighbors, and the people they encounter in the future. Not because they are better than other young nonbelievers, but with God's special salvation did they receive today's blessings. We need to guide the young believers to devote their lives into the greater things that God entrusted them with.
Young brothers and sisters read the Bible, pray, encourage and help each other in the fellowship, and develop a genuine spiritual home with diversified activities. Through every Bible study and theme sharing we develop the young people, and let their spiritual life take roots downward in Christ and bear fruits upward.
2. Enhance Communication and Strengthen Each Other
Every year through different communication activities are organized by the church, such as paying visits to the weak and needy members' homes, going to other churches, hosting youth camps and entertaining groups from other churches. Opportunities like these will show everyone what the believers and circumstances of other churches are like. When seeing spiritually weak people, God will touch them to be the channel of blessing; when seeing the work by the brothers and sisters from other churches, they will be encouraged and strengthened.
In 2016, Haixiu church hosted the visit group from Sanya Lighthouse Church, SALEM-Immanuel Lutheran Church and other churches. The church also paid visits to other churches for ministry exchange. Through the connection and communication in Jesus Christ, many believers feel more inspired and their faith for following God was strengthened.
3. Devote to the Church and Serve Actively
The church has been consciously developing young leaders to undertake the mission of the church, and encouraging young people to participate and play leading roles in the church service to further motivate their initiatives. For example, the praise ministry, publications, financial management, Sunday school and ushers in Haixiu church are all young believers, and they are also seen in the senior care and visitation ministry.
During the three-day Mid-Autumn Festival this year, the worship and praise fellowship performed three praise concerts in three churches presenting an audio-video feast for the Christians in Haikou, and the fellowship also grew into an influential worship and praise fellowship in Hainan. In late October, Haixiu Church is also going to organize a camp for both Chinese and foreign young believers, and is planning the specified themes according to the needs of the young people, such as pre-marital counseling, marriage counseling, how to live a victorious life and others. We believe that there will be generations after generations of Timothy in Haixiu Church to pass the torch of the church and be a good witness to God as a response to the need of the time.
(The author is a church staff from Haixiu Church.)