When there is a question concerning the responsibilities or expectancy of a youth in the church, it is firstly and ultimately decided that a youth is to be an acolyte and nothing more. I say nothing more because after the individual starts their list off with the description “acolyte”, a huge UHM comes next, followed by a short period of silence and a reassurance of their answer of youth’s only being acolytes. In search for a more accurate answer online, there is nothing on this important issue. Especially concerning LCMS (Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod) churches, you will not find an article on this matter. So my hope is that I will be able to give you some helpful insight that should answer your question with certainty.
All throughout the Bible there are many examples set of what a youth’s role in the church is suppose to be. In the Old Testament, Joshua was Moses’ assistant, Joseph, the boy who was sold into slavery by his older brothers, was used by God in a phenomenal way. Jeremiah was called to be a prophet when he was a child. There was also the unnamed boy whom Jesus used to feed the five thousand. This is to name a few!
And the general words and term to describe each and every case concerning this subject is one that we hear and use all the time. This will blow your mind how simple yet profound this is. A youth’s role in the church, amongst the body of Christ, the congregation of believers, is to serve and thus, be used by God!
You’re probably saying to yourself, “Wait, what? But I knew that already. We are all called to serve and by used by God as is every other believer.” Correct, and it is the realization that youths, despite their age but based upon their maturity and basic understanding of the Holy Scriptures, should be considered on an equal level as their older, more experienced brothers and sisters. To hit home even further, in Acts 10:34 Peter says, “…I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:” That is also including age! 1 Peter 2:9 (KJV) Peter goes on to say: “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light:” What did he say? A royal priesthood? But I haven’t gone to seminary to become a pastor, so that cant be about me. I’m exempt from pastoral duties. In a sense that is true. There are those who have been specifically called to the divine instituted ordination (as Luther listed) to teach, to preach and proclaim the Word of God, to baptize, to consecrate or administer the Eucharist, to bind and loose sins, to pray for others, to sacrifice, and to judge all doctrine and spirits. But it is through our baptism that we as believers are called to be apart of this royal priesthood to proclaim the Gospel and do as the priests in the Old Testament did which was to serve the people and to serve as our own High Priest in the New Testament also did. [Galatians 3:27 says: “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”] We are to be like Christ; to serve, to give, to love as Christ done all those things.
Luther taught that God structured the human life to be lived in three situations. These were home, the political realm, and the church. He taught that all people are given “offices” or responsibilities in each of these situations and that these responsibilities are callings or vocations from God. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12:27-28 (KJV), “Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healing, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.” So to say that young people are only allowed or should only be allowed to acolyte is both audacious and impertinent!
When the Word of God clearly states that I have gifts that, whether I have come to the realization that I possess these gifts yet or not, allow me to serve in many other areas of the church. I am not saying that being an acolyte is not on the list for a youths service, on the contrary it is an important and very respected office. A youth, if being moved to be more of a blessing, should be allowed and encouraged to do so. In, To the Christian Nobility of the German Nation, Luther stated, “All Christians truly are of the spiritual estate, and there is no difference among them except of office. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12:[12-13] that we are all one body, yet every member has its own work by which it serves the others.” I cannot stress enough that there has to be a remembrance that all believers of the faith should be treated and looked upon as such, believers of the faith.
As I have stated earlier in this post, based upon their maturity and basic comprehension of the backbone of the scriptures, young believers should be treated as more than youth fulfilling menial tasks within the service. I do hope that this has given clarity and ease of mind.
Check back soon for my next post in this series as I attempt to deliver to you the mindset, emotions, and thoughts of a youth!