It’s often said, “Practice what you preach”. A statement to live by for Christians, or members any faith group, for that matter. The young people of our church need to see that statement in action. It’s good to create youth and young family programs, but if we do it without sincerity and depth, any positive results will be short-lived.
The call to build programs and create liturgy so the missing generation will be part of our church community is pointless if we don’t practice what we preach. We use our “God talk” and teachings to reach out into our communities. We can talk about Missional Transformation, Fresh Expressions of church and the Marks of Mission, but what happens when we don’t follow up? What happens when we preach about love, compassion, and community, and then do nothing to show that in action?
With every Sunday service, every youth group, every Messy Church, we bring a message of hope, love, and faith based on the Gospel, whether it be told by a priest or lay leader. The problems begin when the leaders don’t live this out in their lives that are apparent to those in the group. If you talk about compassion, you have to be compassionate. Don’t turn your back on those who are mentally ill or difficult to relate to. They need the most compassion. If you talk about love, don’t limit it to those who you find easy to be with. Those youth that push your buttons and fight for any attention, good or bad, need your love even more than others. If you talk about morals and good Christian behaviour, then live it. You can’t be a leader only within the walls of the parish building. Model what you talk about.
And one of the most important thing to practice? Humility. If you don’t practice what you preach, then admit your failings. We are all human and make mistakes. Admitting imperfection is one of the greatest gifts you can offer to those you minister with and to. Practice what you preach, and the young people you work with will see the sincerity and depth in your ministry, and want to continue on their faith journeys with you alongside.