"Can these bones live?" That question was put to the prophet Ezekiel as he looked over a valley of dry bones (Ezekiel 37:1-14).
The same question was posed to the Lutheran Youth Summit in Atlanta, Feb. 5-8. Representatives from all our youth-oriented organizations gathered in response to our churchwide initiative to "Connect with youth and young adults." The "bones" they looked at were the many solid programs that touch on young peoples' lives.
We have a lot going for us in this church when it comes to youth:
* A thorough program of catechetical preparation.
* A lively and responsible youth organization.
* A growing cadre of energetic youth workers.
* A successful national youth gathering, the biggest in the United States.
* A superb array of outdoor ministry facilities.
* A high-quality network of church colleges.
* A strong tradition of creative campus ministry.
We have more than half a million people between the ages of 14 and 19 already in the church, to say nothing of the millions who are waiting to be asked. Sounds like a recipe for success, doesn't it? But the sad fact is that we will lose half of those we have by the time they are 25.
And we can do better with those who don't yet know that Jesus loves them. We need to get our act together — literally. We need to be more than a collection of great programs. We need to be knit together as the body of Christ. We need to connect the bones to make the body work.
The youth summit had one purpose: to pray that God's Spirit would breathe on the group and bring them together, just as Ezekiel had seen the breath of God connect the dry bones and make them live. The miracle happened. The representatives took the first steps toward providing activities that would keep young people involved through their high school and college years. They celebrated the good things that are happening and exchanged ideas about what to do next.
The president of one synodical youth group said, "I discovered that I wasn't struggling alone. I am a part of the body of Christ, and that body is alive."
Easter came early this year!
© 2013 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers