I have been involved with youth ministry for the last 14 years in one way or another and threading through the conversations I’ve had with teens is one overriding need—to belong to something bigger than themselves.
Teenagers have a hard time expressing what they really need, beyond their surface pursuits. However, when you study their behaviour, their longing is obvious.
All of us have a powerful and innate longing to belong.
We’re hard-wired to find our identity in close relationships, because we’re made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). Because of this, it’s natural that people have a longing to belong in every aspect of their life.
When the need to belong is not met, problems occur such as loneliness, insecurity, isolation and rejection.
As Christians, we’ve been charged by God to reflect the “radical hospitality” of God’s family, and to welcome the “harassed and helpless” (Matthew 9:36) into a community that values them.
This year at our youth group, Refuge, we have been intentional about creating the opportunity for youth to belong to our church community – by offering a simple meal that we enjoy together each week.
Food seems to be a love language for most teenagers. Some of the best relational times I have with young people are while sharing a meal.
We do bring to these young people so much more than a meal each week – we offer them a safe ‘Refuge’ from the world, where they are free to discover who Jesus really is.
Please pray for Daniel Rainey and myself as we meet with the youth each Friday night, and pray that they will come to know and love Jesus as their Lord and Saviour.
– Valerie O’Regan