“My involvement with the youth group of St. John’s has opened my life up to experiences of spiritual growth. This development is the result of the community that youth group provides for me.” Sam Vavra
St. John’s has a long history of valuing our youth. Since the church’s founding in 1922, there has always been a specific person on staff to guide youth to be followers of Jesus. As early as 1947, the youth have led all aspects of worship on Youth Sunday. Congregational support and leadership opportunities continue to this day.
NURTURING SERVANT LEADERSHIP
One of the ways the congregation at St. John’s supports our youth is by generously contributing their financial support for youth mission activities. Over the years, St. John’s high school youth have built 14 Habitat Houses on summer mission trips and were the first youth group in Charlotte to do so in 1989. High school youth have also served in mission endeavors in places such as Puerto Rico, New York City, Ottawa, Washington D.C., and Miami.
ENGAGING THE LOCAL COMMUNITY
Middle and high school youth participate in local missions throughout the year by working on projects with Hope Chapel Outreach to the Homeless, Adopt-A-Stream, Charlotte Rescue Mission, CROP Walk, and QC Family Tree. Middle school youth also have a four-day local mission trip in the summer where they volunteer at these agencies and other local agencies such as Baby Bundles, Charlotte Family Housing, Friendship Trays, and Crisis Assistance. An emphasis on local mission work is present throughout the entire time in the youth program and is an extension of the overall mission of St. John’s to engage the local community.
FOSTERING INTERGENERATIONAL RELATIONSHIPS
Adults of all ages work with our youth in a variety of contexts as Sunday School teachers, small group leaders, retreat leaders, service project volunteers, and Youth Resource Team members. Many of our youth also serve as group and station leaders for St. John’s Vacation Bible School for children during the summer. St. John’s youth also deliver poinsettias to many of our older members during the Advent season. Our youth are encouraged and enabled to form relationships with people of all ages.
TEACHING FAITH TO BE LIVED OUT IN THE REAL WORLD
In the Growth Hour on Sunday mornings, from 9:15AM–10:15AM, youth are taught how stories and teachings from the Bible can be applied to day to day life. In Youth Group on Sunday evenings from 5:00PM–7:30PM, youth participate in recreation, a communal dinner, choir, and a program that seeks to expand spiritual awareness for all aspects of life. This program time varies in form from week to week but always includes small group teaching and sharing times. It also includes times where our parents, young adults, and selected guests share about their faith journeys. In addition to these learning opportunities, discipleship classes, which cover basic Christian beliefs, are taught to our youth as they enter the program in 6th grade and then again as they prepare to go on to college or career in 12th grade. Wherever teaching occurs, it is made clear that St. John’s is a safe place to ask questions and to be your authentic self. In all of this, we seek to impart to our youth ways to be more loving, inclusive, and just, while doing their part to make the world a better place. We believe that this is what it means to follow Jesus.