How will we #StandWithTheKids?

inspired by the poem “Turning Madness into Flowers”

I stand in awe of the youth today. My colleagues Emily Heitzman and Melissa Cooper have written eloquently on the prophetic voice of the students leading a movement for change in the aftermath of the Parkland tragedy. While the youth are busy organizing, planning, and making their voices heard on a local and national state, the adults I know seem to be unsure how to respond to these young people on a mission.

I’ve had discussions with youth leaders both online and in person this last week about what our role is in all of this. As youth ministers, we are asking important questions:

  • How can we support and equip young leaders?
  • How do we amplify the youth-led movement without taking over?
  • How can we effect change in our communities?
  • How can we keep children and youth safe?
  • Should we show up at student-led protests?
  • How does our faith inform our response?
  • What support am I willing and able to provide?

I’ve encouraged colleagues to give careful consideration to the context they serve in as well as the ways they are able to support and equip youth. I’ve pondered my own personal response and came up with this beginning pledge to youth in my family, my community, and my church:

Dear Youth,

As a person of faith, I am committed to co-creating, with God and my neighbors, a world where nations have transformed their weapons into the tools of peace and well being (Micah 4:1-4). I pray daily for your safety and well-being and for that of children around the world. While powerful, prayers alone are not enough. My faith compels me to pray with my actions. I am proud of the way you are enacting your faith. I promise to follow your lead, to equip you, and support you. Here are the steps I am willing to take to create with you a world where children are safe in their homes and schools:

I will offer my presence at events.

I will locate meeting spaces for youth to plan, organize, and host events.

I will help with prayers or speeches.

I will help fund training for nonviolent protest.

I will solicit letters of support from other adults.

I will find and create educational resources to assist you.

I will offer time to discuss these important issues during youth group.

I will continue to call and write legislators in support of gun safety.

I will thoughtfully consider any request for help you make.

May we together turn “madness into flowers.” — Christine

Adults, I invite you to pledge what you can in support of this youth led movement. A couple of resources that may be helpful:

The United Methodist Call to End Gun Violence

New youth study resources from LinC are being released soon.

Thank you, youth, for your faithful witness to a better world. Thank you also to my friends and colleagues in the Northern Illinois Conference Youth Ministry Cluster who share resources, encouragement, and a vision of the kin-dom. This is a work in progress.

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