The St. John’s Pulpit
St. John’s Baptist Church 300 Hawthorne Lane Charlotte, NC 28204
GROWING LIKE JESUS
Luke 2:41-52 (Text verse 52)
Second Sunday during Lent, March 17, 2019 – Heritage Sunday – 97 Years of Youth Ministry
by Senior Minister, Rev. Dennis W. Foust, PhD
Youth of 2019, you are just like the first youth of St. John’s back in 1922; 97 years ago.
Yes, I know, they would be 109 to 115 years of age today; but you are just like they were 97 years ago.
You are going to become adults in an unpredictable and changing world.
The high school graduates of 1922 entered a world of strong economic climate and institutional strength.
Yet, before those graduates reached age 25, the great depression began lasting until they were age 35.
Two years later, when those 1922 graduates were 37, the United States joined the Allies fighting against
Adolf Hitler and World War II continued until those graduates were in their 40s.
For 97 years, St. John’s has prepared youth like you to face a changing world with ACTIVE FAITH. You are our message to the future which many of us will not see.
My challenge to you is to GROW LIKE JESUS. Luke gives us this wonderful statement:
“Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and people.”
Jesus grew mentally, physically, spiritually and socially. I ask you to GROW LIKE JESUS.
You grow mentally in school and many places; we can almost watch you grow physically;
we see how you develop socially; and we see evidence of your spiritual growth.
Your parents, families and friends have introduced you to St. John’s; a church that has been preparing
youth to live as leaders of impact in a changing world for almost a century; we are tested and tried.
Your parents, these church members and leaders, teachers, coaches and other adult mentors have
invested in you because we want you to be truly good so you can help the world become better.
We want you to shape the world of the future with Christian ethics and moral behaviors that reflect the
nature and character of God which we find revealed in Jesus.
This is why we teach you, love mercy, do justice & walk humbly with God who loves everyone!
1.We teach you to build your self-esteem based on your value in relationship with The Loving God.
2.We encourage you to ask honest questions and understand why your answers can be trusted.
3.We nurture you to live in a covenant community that is intergenerational.
4.We affirm your commitments to follow Jesus as his disciple – his lifelong learner.
5.We show you honesty, authenticity, humility, worship, caring friendships, ways to practice the love
of God, stewardship of resources entrusted to us, joyful witness and a servant lifestyle.
6.We hope you will go to university and return to continue this youth ministry for future generations – or
take the principles and practices of this youth ministry into other churches where you serve.
7.We are not perfect; but for 97 years, the adults of this church have invested in youth like you.
If we could gather all the influence, leadership, vision and impact of youth like you who have passed
through this church over the past 97 years to make the world better, you would be amazed.
Youth, I have a few more words to say to the adults. But please listen to me. Your steps matter every day.
Where you allow your feet to take you matters. We are trying to train you to be ACTIVELY FAITHFUL LEADERS TODAY AND IN THE FUTURE. The next steps you take will be from this Sanctuary to Broach Hall where you will be our servants this afternoon for the mission auction. You will lead us and we will follow you soon. My prayer is that you will allow these steps of leadership to be the first of many steps of Actively Faithful leadership in the years ahead. (YOUTH DEPART THE SANCTUARY.)
(AFTER THE YOUTH WENT TO BROACH HALL TO PREPARE FOR ALL OF US.)
These youth and the children who are with us in this hour are not merely leaders for the future.
These youth and children are a vital part of our church today.
They are the young of our species.
Like the young of all species, they need care, attention, nurture and guidance.
Thank you for knowing they belong to us – all of us.
And thank you for almost 300 of you staying for lunch and today’s youth mission auction.
Our youth and children need us.
Parents and grandparents, please talk about and exemplify servant faith to your youth and children.
You are still the biggest influences in the lives of your offspring.
You help them know how to love God and love others the way Jesus taught us.
Yet, thank you for realizing you need help in nurturing your children in the path of Jesus Christ.
Thank you for entrusting them to us to invest in their spiritual formation.
These St. John’s families with youth and children need all of us.
These strong, resilient and brilliant youth are challenged in ways we were not.
They also have opportunities we did not have; but each needs our prayers and encouragement.
Therefore, we will be working on ways to help you pray for and encourage our youth.
I will work with Lee Gray over the next few weeks and we will assign some youth to each adult Sunday School Ministry Formation group. We will offer 3 to 5 ways you can support them.
A few years ago, a song became popular: Will Those Who Come Behind Us Find Us Faithful?
In this song, we find two questions and a prayer:
Will Those Who Come Behind Us Find Us Faithful?
Will the strength of our devotion light their way?
May the footprints that we leave, show that we believed.
In a few moments, we will follow our youth to the Youth Mission Auction.
Proceeds from today will support them in at least four mission trips including Puerto Rico and
another Habitat House build – a tradition of St. John’s youth for more than 25 years.
Unless you want to buy a lot of wrapping paper, cookies and candy bars from them over the next
two-years bid on items today with a deep commitment to a spiritual vision.
Let’s make today a success as we help these students GROW LIKE JESUS! Amen and AMEN!