Rev Ishak Jonius of the Basel Christian Church of Malaysia, Bahasa Malay (BCCM BM), reflects on what he has learnt about youth ministry. Although from another culture, the former youth director’s insights about engaging with youth are also valuable for us. If the church wants to reach the youth, most importantly they must know their […]
Rev Ishak Jonius of the Basel Christian Church of Malaysia, Bahasa Malay (BCCM BM), reflects on what he has learnt about youth ministry. Although from another culture, the former youth director’s insights about engaging with youth are also valuable for us.
If the church wants to reach the youth, most importantly they must know their needs, including their understanding of the word of God. I visit every parish and consult every youth group at least once a year, asking them how they run youth fellowship, what are their strengths and needs. Youth share parts of their life through social media. I therefore give the youth opportunities to ask me questions on these social platforms and then analyse the questions to find out where we can best support them.
Once we find out their needs, we hold a discipleship camp for the whole BCCM BM youth. A junior camp for 13 to 17 years one year and a camp for 18 to 35 years the following year. They are separated because their needs are different. For instance, the older age group are already working.
Part of my role is to build up young leaders among and for the youth. Every two years our youth general assembly chooses new leaders who then attend a training camp to prepare them. Serving as a Christian leader and being a leader in the world have different aims, so they are trained for leadership according to what Jesus and God’s word says. In doing so, they are also empowered for ministry outside of the church. We teach them that to be a great leader, you must first meet people at their level and then will gain respect. To do this, you must be among them in their everyday life.
Fellowship and ministry as a Christian is a lifestyle, not just an event. If it is just about being together on Sunday for a service, I believe it will fail. Fellowship is learning the Bible, visiting your friend, going to a restaurant. A strong youth group will have close relationships outside of Sunday services.
And, if you have good fellowship in the church, you have more love for non-Christians. If you start a badminton tournament, you can invite non-believers to play. If they don’t like badminton, play football! Get their number, invite them to coffee time, share about God with them. The field of the kingdom of God is not only in the church but also in the supermarket! We encourage youth leaders to be teaching their young people how to have fun with non-believing friends and, as they are having fun, to pass on spiritual faith. Deep friendship is the way in which the gospel can be shared most naturally and effectively because it involves openness and trust. Unless our relationships are at a level where people are comfortable to tell us their stories of joy and pain, and we are able to tell our own stories of how Jesus has helped us in these times, people will not be able to encounter Jesus and faith in us.
This story was also published in the November 2021 edition of Border Crossings, the magazine of LCA International Mission.
Many of our partner churches are working in new territory for the kingdom of God; therefore, spiritual attack is their everyday reality. As a member of a congregation, school, or family, or a couple or individual, you are invited to commit to praying for our partners in mission. For regular prayer point updates, go to www.lca.org.au/international-mission/act-now/pray
Read more stories about our partner churches in Malaysia (Sabah) at https://www.lcamission.org.au/category/stories/international-partners/malaysia-sabah/