Every time we have a New Member class at Christ Providence, we ask each person the question: “Who is your St. Andrew?” We explain how the apostle Andrew was the person who led his now more famous brother, Simon Peter, to know Jesus. “Andrew went to find his brother, Simon, and told him, “We have found the Messiah” (John 1:41) Your St. Andrew is a person who helped you to know Jesus more closely. Remember yours?
Now, I’d like to turn that question around by asking “Who is your St. Timothy?” In the book of Acts, Paul is traveling all across modern-day Turkey and Greece to proclaim the kingdom of Jesus. Along the way, Paul begins to mentor a young person named Timothy, a disciple with great potential (check out Acts 16:1). Paul pours his time, energy, and most especially his own love for God into this young man. In doing so, Paul teaches us a profound spiritual lesson to remember as we serve God. Grace grows by giving it away.
Who is your St. Timothy? Is there a person in your life who has questions about faith? Someone in whom you recognize gifts that may still be like a “diamond in the rough”? Lately, I have been thinking a lot about the massive number of religiously unaffiliated young adults in Charlotte and how we as the church can disciple them.
Just recently, Charlotte became the 16th largest city in the US, passing Indianapolis, and that is largely due to the influx of young adults.
My guess is that you have a “Timothy” near you. A young man or woman who has questions about faith, about Jesus, maybe even about church…. How can you connect with them? A mentor of mine (I was his Timothy!) once offered some wisdom on this. I’ll paraphrase it here.
Young adults, whether they are religious or not, are typically already “on board” with serving others. In conversations about faith, a good place to begin is by talking about the church’s rich history and tradition of compassionate service. At Christ Lutheran, we have an incredible range of Outreach programs…from our McClintock Partners in Education program, to our Habitat builds (in Charlotte and El Salvador), to Kairos Prison Ministry and so much more. Can you invite your St. Timothy to serve with us?
Next, refuse to dumb down our faith. A lot of young adults are wrestling with intense spiritual questions. How do science and religion intersect? What role should faith have in politics? We do not need to have all the answers, but it is good to be willing to listen and prepared to point them to people, classes, books, and more that could help. I’m convinced this is also why we as adults need to study the Bible and our faith deeply—so we can help guide others.
Finally, we need to GO to them. Paul went to Lystra (Acts 16:1) …which is where Timothy lived. Pray for the Lord to lead you to places where you can meet a St. Timothy…and POUR your care, your kindness, and maybe when the door opens…your faith…your hope in Christ Jesus our Lord...into him or her. It could make all the difference in the world.
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