General CBF / Leadership Scholars / young Baptists / Youth ministry

Part of God’s Story

By Jana Atkinson

Jana Atkinson

The idea that I am a part of God’s story is something I never thought or believed until Jesus came in and radically changed my perspective.

We live in a world that is full of broken people. I spent a great deal of my life as one of these broken people. I was broken and hurting because I could never find purpose. This is something I can see rampant in our world today. Young people especially have a sense of hopelessness following them around. I have often spoken to teenagers who struggle with their identity.

As a minister, I can share the story of Jesus until I am blue in the face. But if I don’t emphasize that it all goes further, my ministry ceases to bear fruit. 

It is crucial for me as a youth minister to emphasize a few things to those I serve. The first highlights that God created the entire world from the highest mountains to the lowest points. This same creator also molded and shaped every part of who they are. It is essential as a leader to accentuate that they are integral to God’s mission because he has made it so. God, who is rich in mercy, made them alive with Christ, and he continually offers us grace.

The most significant part of this mission is beyond explaining that a way was made for salvation. To bring real awareness to their purpose, I believe it is important to remind students that because of the work of Christ, the Holy Spirit now dwells within them.

This is the piece where it is vital to emphasize to students that they are integral parts of the ministry of reconciliation. This is where I can see teenagers finding the joy of the Lord. I do see where they have passion for things that are bigger than themselves. As I serve Gen-Z students, they are not concerned with themselves but with justice for those around them. However, I can see a sense of defeat in that they can only do so much to make a difference. 

How can we make them understand and fully embrace that they are ministers of reconciliation?

Let’s start with highlighting the power we have been given and take any limitations that are in place to serve and bring justice. I must begin reminding those I do that their story is the same and so much more. As ministers, we need to make sure those we serve to hold this truth in their hearts. 

Jana Atkinson is a CBF Leadership Scholar pursuing her M.Div. at Logsdon Seminary. She holds a B.A. in Biblical and Theological Studies from Baptist University of the Americas and an Associates Degree from Southwest Texas Junior College and a certification from the Christian Latina Leadership Institute. She is currently serving youth and young adult students at Woodland Baptist Church in San Antonio.

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