I have been leading student ministry for five years now. Freshman year of college, a friend invited me to attend a weekly youth group in our community to see if I would be interested in volunteering. To be completely honest, I never thought that I’d stick with it; I had just become a Christian myself and never thought I’d have the endurance to keep up with middle school and high school students. But I went anyway. I ended up getting an egg smashed on my head during a game, ruining a brand-new shirt, and loving every second of it.
Don’t get me wrong; leading students is the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. I show up anyway though, and I’m constantly challenged when I do. It’s difficult, but the benefits are eternal.
One of the reasons I am so big on empowering young people is because of this: Satan continues his efforts to make sin less offensive, Heaven less appealing, hell less horrific, and the Gospel less urgent. A long time ago, I made the decision that I simply refuse to let him get away with that. That’s why I keep showing up.
“The thief does not come except to steal, to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and they may have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)
I am so excited to be part of the ministry of Anglicans for Life. We’re an organization that believes we have been given the opportunity through Jesus Christ to live an abundant life on this side of Heaven. Our desire is to see the next generation fully understand the sanctity of life and advocate for every life, standing against abortion and the damage that it does to women, men, and pre-born children.
After prayer and guidance from the Lord, we are beginning the journey of creating a youth initiative within Anglicans for Life, in partnership with Young Anglicans and Rev. Steven Tighe! There are two exciting plans for this new endeavor:
#1 YSummit 2019: Mobilizing Young Anglicans for Life
On January 17, 2019, we will be hosting the first YSummit: Mobilizing Young Anglicans for Life in Falls Church, VA, in conjunction with Summit 2019: Mobilizing the Church for Life and the March for Life 2019! This will be a great opportunity for youth group students to learn, be inspired, and participate in the pro-life movement.
#2 Youth Curriculum
Back in December, the Lord put it on my heart to dive deeper into the question: are we, as a Church, addressing sex education and talking about relationships in a way that is glorifying to God? I quickly found out why He kept bringing it up.
Nationally, Planned Parenthood is the largest sex education provider in public school systems. Let that sink in for a moment. The nation’s largest abortion-provider is going into schools and teaching students how to have “safe, healthy sex,” and what their options are if they encounter an unwanted pregnancy or STD. In essence, they meet the culture where it’s at. They support students in making decisions that developmentally they aren’t yet able to make, creating potential damage that will last for the rest of their lives. “Generation Z” already believes that Christianity is a religion that has too many rules, many about sex. In fact, they’ve disconnected sex and relationships so much so that the majority aren’t terribly interested in sex itself – porn is safer to them. That statement is staggering. Friends, this is not the sort of abundant life that Jesus was talking about, and it certainly isn’t the kind of life that He died for.
From a parental standpoint, we can’t assume students are receiving sex education from their families. I met a young woman at the AFL Summit last year, who was very open when talking about her sex education experience with me. I asked her, “What kind of sex education have you had?” She responded by saying that, “Sex is a bit of an awkward, perhaps even taboo, topic in our household. My education is largely a result of listening to my peers’ conversations. At times, I would turn to Google for help.” Generation Z is growing up with access to anything they want to see, at the tip of their fingers. As a result, we must adjust our engagement, knowing that pornography, social media, and disconnectedness are very real threats that teens face today.
The curriculum’s goal is to educate teenagers about relational and culturally-relevant topics through Scriptural teaching and partnership with parents and youth leaders. My heart yearns for teenagers to know that they are valued and created for purpose. Middle school and high school students are being told who they are by society, their friends, and social media. But the sanctity of human life, the core driving force of Anglicans for Life, begins with teaching the next generation that their value is in Jesus Christ. There is so much glory in the abundant life that is freely offered to them, but they must first know where to find it.
Statistically, the worst thing our culture does for young people is to water down sex education. We misunderstand teenagers when we assume that they are just immature, physically and emotionally, in how they think about relationships. Beneath the physiological realities, resides a deep, human desire for connection. We were made for relationship. But we have to recognize that ultimate intimacy comes in the relationship with God, and we must get that relationship right. When we fail to help young people navigate how sex and relationships fit into the broader category of life, we are failing the God who created relationship to be a deep, bountiful gift for us.
I am so excited to share that at 2019’s Summit, there will be a workshop dedicated to sharing this curriculum, its vision and its mission. In the workshop, I hope to highlight the importance of relationships and sex, and why churches need to have glorifying conversations with teens about these topics.
My prayer is that the Lord will use this youth initiative to change the game. The structure of it will create space for partnering with parents, engaging teenagers, and equipping youth leaders. A life-giving, Gospel-centric community is going to change students’ lives.
The Sanctity of Life begins when we understand our own worth and what the purpose of relationship is. Then, and only then, can abundant life begin.
Do you have students who are active in the pro-life movement and/or passionate about life issues? We would love to get them connected to AFL, learn how we can pray for them, and support them in their journey! Please contact me with any questions, inquires, or stories you may want to share.
Written by AFL Ministry Coordinator Sammie Franks. Originally featured in the 2018 Carpe Diem newsletter.