OAKLAND MILLS The Oakland Mills Evangelical Methodist Church is coming alive with ideas to embrace teenagers in the area.
The church's youth pastor, Tim Burdick, is making plans to reach out to young people in the small Juniata County community. Burdick was hired in November of last year. To his knowledge, there has not been a youth pastor on staff at the church in several years.
Burdick's first goal is to hold a bi-weekly event known as "Youth Alive." It will be open to young people ages 11 to 18 at 6:30 p.m. every other Thursday night starting Oct. 4. The gathering will consist of discussion about the Bible, various games and food.
"Youth Alive" is based on John 10:10 in which Jesus declared, "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly."
"The youth have so much more life than we do," Burdick said about the energy of teenagers.
He said the church wanted to find a way to help them release that energy and minister to them at the same time. Something as simple as one hour at the church allows Burdick and his wife, April, to make connections with individual teens.
For many years, the church has offered Bible study on Sunday evenings. The current Sunday night Bible study averages less than a dozen teens in attendance. Growth in numbers is not necessarily the goal, he noted. There will be moments of fun and opportunities to chat with friends, but "Youth Alive" is about spiritual growth.
In order to be like Jesus and know God, the teens need to understand the Bible. Burdick discovered through the Bible studies that several teenagers "do not understand simple Bible stories."
"Our outlook is for them to have something to plug into socially and let it be something they can grow from too," Burdick said.
Burdick, who had eight years of ministry experience before coming to the area last fall, including youth ministry in another part of the state, said teens today need to know whom they can trust.
"They need to see how you react to things," he explained, to know if Christian adults are genuine in what they model.
"They need to see Jesus in your life. He didn't blow up at people when things went wrong. You have to let them see how you handle situations," Burdick said.
The Oakland Mills youth ministry wants to help kids find fun in faith as well as connect them with older generations.
The church is hosting a hayride event for the entire community starting at 6 p.m. Oct. 27 at the church. All ages are invited.
For more information about the church and its programs, visit www.oaklandmillsem.org.