This week Pastor Priji converses with Pastor Stephen Quackenbush, a Youth Pastor at Emmanuel Church, on leading the youth and their importance in the future of the church leadership.
PP: Pastor Priji; SQ: Stephen Quackenbush
PP: Being a youth pastor, can you tell us why it is necessary to reach to the young people of today? Does the church require a youth ministry to cater to them specifically?
SQ: I might be biased in saying this, but the youth ministry is probably the most critical and crucial in the church.
The youth are the future leaders of the church. If we are not pouring our energy, resources and love into the youth, what does that say about our care for the future of the church?
PP: How are the young people in Emmanuel different from others?
SQ: At Emmanuel, we have two sections. Firstly the young twelve to seventeen and the young adults between eighteen to thirty years old.
With the youth it’s about people trying to find their identities. The younger youths want to find out how to be a Christian in the secular school. The young adults are at the time they’re making life decisions in career and education which takes a lot of their time. As a lot of time is taken up, they find a lack of time for prayer and church. They start disappearing. They do not have people to encourage, understand and pull them back.
When a sheep wanders and secludes itself, it becomes vulnerable to all kinds of attacks. As Pastors, we have to take care to protect the sheep.
PP: What would your one advice to the young adults be on dating?
SQ: We are at the time when men and women’s hearts explode with emotions. Understanding all that, dating is good but do not consider it if you are not prepared to leave your parents’ home and start your life together as a family. If you don’t take up that mindset, you set yourself up for distraction and failure. The Bible clearly says man will have to leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife.
If you try to test the waters before you’re ready, you create walls and blocks in your heart so that when you finally do meet the one God has prepared for you, as your heart is already hurt and damaged, it affects your ability to love them unconditionally.
PP: Do you have a specific youth culture in the church?
SQ: Pastor Shyju always stresses the youth in being a big part of the church.
We focus a lot on developing prayer and pursuit of God. You can’t teach hunger. It is birthed inside you by the Holy Spirit. But you can teach the different things that lead you to prayer and the door which the Holy Spirit opens and begins to birth that hunger inside of them. We have been concentrating a lot on the pursuit of God as your One and Only.
PP: How do you mentor the young people?
SQ: It is extremely important to spend time one on one. I am a very busy man and should be more involved. There are specific youths and the young leaders helping out the Pastoral staff with whom I spend time with. It is crucial you pour out into them because they are the future pastors and leaders.
You can meet with the group, but it is extremely hard to open your heart up in that setting. True growth comes when you expose your greatest failures, sins, and struggles because it is exposing them that cuts our feet down to the ground from the high place we’ve set ourselves up. That is the only way for us to grow and be strong. That is hard to do in a group, but when the Pastor sits down with them one on one, they expose themselves and it is at that time that the Pastor has most success. That is when you can speak into the future of the church.
PP: What is your strategy to reach to young people of today with the message of Jesus?
SQ: We’ve concentrated a lot on Apologetics, offering up defense for the belief we have in Christ Jesus.
We’ve also focused a lot on developing boldness, because a lot of the youth are unaware of who they are in Christ. They feel lost about their identity, not knowing the power and authority they have in the Name of Jesus Christ. When they become awake to who they are, to Who is in them, it develops a boldness and that attracts people to ask them.
PP: Would you conclude with sharing something from your heart to the young people listening?
SQ: When God reached out for the bride of Christ, He used one man in a city or a nation to do the job. God is looking for that someone to say, “I’ll be that one man or woman”. It is probably the greatest call anyone can receive and the most sacrificial call.
If there is a young person willing to stand in the gap on behalf of a country, on behalf of their generation, willing to lay down their life in order to cry out to God, not leaving His presence, God will send revival through that person.
That position requires a lot of dying, requires to enjoy a certain level of pain and suffering. The more we enjoy the pain of dying to ourselves, the more we will see the Holy Spirit and the life of Christ revealed through us. That, I believe, brings revival.
This podcast was originally posted on 5th December, 2015.
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