Hi, my name is Jared Carrell, and I am a youth pastor in Arkansas. Since my college years, I have really delved into apologetics. Like many Christian young people I thought I had a firm grasp on biblical knowledge until I met the secular University. It lead me into a deep study of God’s Word and a deeper understanding of the “Christian worldview.” My goal is to grow in my understanding of God’s Word to prepare young people for what is waiting out there for them and possibly share some of the things I have learned with as many people as will listen.
Welcome Jared, so glad you joined connect to further your apologetic knowledge and grow in Christ. Not surrendering my heart to Jesus until I was 36 I did not have the struggle you had. But i do understand my brother.
@JCarrell Welcome to Connect, Jared! It is great to hear how your own university experience has fueled your desire to equip young people to navigate the engagement of their faith with tough questions and challenges. I hope you will enjoy learning and growing with us on Connect. You might also consider inviting your senior and collegiate students to join us on Connect (our terms of service require that members be 16+) as it could be a great resource for them to reach out on these topics!
Welcome aboard @JCarrell. It is good to have you with us from Arkansas. How is the youth ministry going? Have the youth you engage coping fairly well with the pandemic? Have there been any particular analogies that you have employed in discussions with them about their faith and the pandemic? I hope you enjoy the discussions and dialog. God-bless you and your journey and mission.
Thank you, Kejdon. Ministry has been a bit hard during this pandemic for everyone, because it is not the way we are use to doing it. It is no exception here. However, I have chosen to look at it from a different perspective. One of the hardest things is to try and pull youth away from secular events/things to get them to events/things that center around God. The claim has always been, “We are too busy.” This pandemic has pulled down a lot of those barriers. Everyone, especially youth, has had to come face to face with the fact that the “stuff” that was so important before is now “non-essential” and cancelled. Many have just “done” church or live from week to week on the strength from another. This is the chance for the church to get back in the prayer closet and open up the Word to get back the personal aspect of the church. I have no doubt that, if we do that we will come back as a group to give to the church body more than just our presence. Just as Nehemiah set individuals over sections of the wall God has given us this time to build and strengthen ourselves (our part) in Him, personally.
Even before this pandemic I had been stressing finding our identity in God, rather than in things. I have been using a specific time in my life when I came face to face with the fact that I defined myself by everything else, but being a “child of God” as an example. I was taken to a place where all I had was God, which made me realize everything else can be taken away and the first things should always be those that cannot be taken away: God’s love, God’s approval, and prayer. I didn’t think they were getting it, but now I think they do.
Unfortunately, I received news that a young man in our town (not our youth group) committed suicide over the weekend. It is a really difficult time, and I have encouraged everyone to reach out in this time with this message. A personal relationship with Christ is essential, and it will never be taken away, cancelled, or called “non-essential.” It happens in the heart, not in a building.
All in all, " We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose" (Roman 8:28 KJV). Thanks for the welcome! God bless!
Beautifully said I am so sad to hear about the young man. Lifting his loved ones up in prayer
Thank you so much for sharing detail. I pray that your ministry will impact the youth in a way that is long term. My heart goes out to the family of the lost child. These are tough times and sometimes things just do not make sense. I hope that the youth you are engaging get to see the importance of their identity in Christ. It is good that you were using non-essentiality as a realization surrounding this pandemic – a tool to enhance the possibility that the youth see the importance that they each have with the identity given to them, i.e. what is really essential. I hope you continue to engage here. Your insight and experiences are greatly appreciated.