The Next Generation of Justice
Brian Cress serves as IJM’s Director of Denomination and Youth Mobilization. He is the author, “10 Minute Moments Seeking Justice”, the creator of IJM’s “24 Hour Justice Experience” and the youth curriculums “Questions to Live By” and “Evil and Suffering”. Prior to joining IJM in 2007, Brian served on the pastoral team of Westminster Chapel in Bellevue, Washington from 1980 to 2007. After serving as Pastor of Student Ministries for 25 years, he became the Executive Pastor, leading a 35 member staff team.
Your students know they live in an unjust world—they hear about it on the news, in their classrooms, from their friends and on social media. But what they may not know is that God cares about injustice and has a vital role for them to play.
In addition, your youth pastors and leaders are in a unique position to raise up a justice generation that has the convictions and insights to help end slavery in their lifetime.
How does this happen? The foundation is a biblically grounded youth ministry where students are coached and taught to live out 1 Timothy 4:12, “Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.” In addition, Micah 6:8 instructs us to “seek justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”
As a former youth pastor myself, I know how to teach and integrate walking humbly with God through our Sunday school, bible studies, small discipleship groups. And in my youth group, we did a pretty good job of loving mercy with our mission trips and local outreach programs.
But to seek justice or act justly – we pretty much did nothing. That was until I, as the youth pastor, realized that including justice into a transformational ministry model was essential because it was close to the heart of God.
What does it really look like then?
It looks like youth pastors like Jonathan, just outside of DC, whose summer camp theme this summer was justice. They utilized IJM youth resources for their daily devotional times, videos and lessons plans from the IJM 24 Hour Justice Experience as part of their teaching time. In addition, they are planning ways to raise awareness and funds this coming school year to help IJM rescue more slaves – most of whom are the same age as them.
It looks like Jena, who will be a senior in high school in Winter Park, Florida. She is taking what she has learned and over the summer started the process and then got approval to start Justice Club on her school campus this year. The club plans to organize a 5k race to raise awareness and funds for more rescue and aftercare of victims.
It looks like youth groups in Nashville hosting Battle of the Bands concerts, or groups in California doing car washes, or groups in Kansas doing projects at a local trafficking victims aftercare shelter, or groups across the US this fall doing “IJM Give Change”campaigns.
By raising awareness and funds, these students and youth groups are not only drawing closer to the heart of God, but they are seeing the difference. When they share the most recent IJM news on their IG story, they are seeing that the lives they lead matter greatly to people who they’ve never met – but who need them desperately.
At IJM, it is our desire to serve you as you seek to transform the hearts of students and lead them into the work of justice. For ways your youth group can get involved, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or by signing up for our Youth leader newsletter and resources here.