I'm always on the prowl for articles to help me and our volunteers to better minister to students. Here's another good one from LeaderTreks.
“Just have faith.” I cringe when I reflect on the number of times I’ve
answered students’ questions of doubt with that seemingly harmless
phrase. When broken down, I recognize the ignorance, pride, and
ultimately, fear, behind those words—“Just” as if it were a simple
solution, and “have faith” as if doubt and faith cannot survive within
the same person. I have since realized that faith cannot exist without
doubt. It would be meaningless. READ MORE . . . . .
If you're in youth ministry, or in church world in general, you've read
about or heard about the numerous statistics pointing to what some call
the "drop out problem." I don't want to get into the numbers. (Lately I
am of the opinion that we can get too distracted by them.) But I do want
to address something I've observed over the last few years. READ MORE . . . .
The fine folks at YM360 put out some great material and resources. Check them out!
After some thought and time spent considering what we want to see accomplished in the lives of our students this year we have come up with our "arc" for the next several months.
September 14 to November 16 - Why am I here? Doing a series in sync with the Sunday morning sermon series and our adult Connection Groups so we are all on the same page. Taking a look at discipleship and our purpose. We will have at least one Outreach Night during the series. Outreach nights we put an emphasis on bringing friends who don't know Christ and we simply share the gospel, play some games and serve up some great food.
November 23 - Youth Led Outreach Night
November 30 - God's Not Dead - movie night
December 7 - Joseph December 14 - Mary December 21 - Bowling (cause nothing says Christmas like a bowling party) December 28 - No Youth Group Gathering
Joshua Series - January 4 - Strength and Courage January 11 - Unlikely Hero
January 18 - Dedication
January 25 - Outreach Night
February 1 - Remember February 8 - Trust God February 15 - Confession
February 22 - Friend Night
Last week our youth group attended Camp Cale in Hertford, NC. Cale's staff strives to put on a quality camp experience for the campers. They have it all, skeet, 22 rifle range, archery, rock wall, high and low ropes courses, kayaks, swimming, fun games, recreation area, snack shop and great food in the outdoor pavillion dining area, huge air conditioned conference/worship center. If your church is within a few hours drive from Cale you should seriously consider attending their camp or renting the facility for your own event. Check em out! They can house around 80 campers at this time. (plans are in the works for nice new cabins to be built soon) All of this along the shoreline of the Perquimins River, such a great location to have a get-a-way.
The theme this summer was Mission Controlled. It was all about living life on mission for God. The highlight of our group's week was when three of our middle school guys put their faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior. We look forward to baptizing them at youth group on the beach in a couple of weeks.
Swimming in the River
Who is that guy?
NC's best GaGa ball pit
Did I mention swimming?
Here is the scope of the messages I preached at camp: PM messages - To Be On Mission: Monday - 1st You must be a believer - salvation/gospel message Tuesday - 2nd You must be a follower - Example that Jesus Christ left us
Wednesday - 3rd You must be obedient - calling of the first disciples Mt. 4 Thursday - 4th You must be ready to share - Phillip and the ethopian eunich
AM messages - Gonna follow missionary Paul Monday - Paul’s Conversion - God can use you know matter your past - Acts 6 Tuesday - Paul’s encounter with Bar-Jesus - You will battle the enemy - Acts 13
Wednesday - Paul’s message in Antioch - Share the TRUTH - Acts 13 Thursday - Paul heals the cripple - Be used by meeting needs - Acts 14 Friday - Paul’s hardships - On mission isn’t for sissies. 2 Corinthians 11:23-33
In a conversation with a volunteer (which I didn’t respond hardly at all other than a few head nods, but listened to what this volunteer was saying so I could chew on it and think about it a while) the volunteer expressed the frustration of watching current students and past students and the decisions they are making. Students who have just dropped out because they have decided that something else in life is more important than their faith walk and their relationship with Jesus Christ.
If you are in youth ministry for any length of time you know this frustration. This frustration can take seed in our lives and then lead us to the question what we are doing and is it worth it.
So I’ve been thinking a few days. No genius thought here. Jesus probably got frustrated with the disciples. Matthew 17:17 comes to mind. I’m sure there would be a sense of frustration with me because I don’t always make the best decisions or behave in a manner that reflects Christ.
The example who came to my mind was Peter, some scholars say that Peter was the oldest of the disciples and the others were much younger and in their teen years. Peter who often spoke before he thought or even acted without thinking, the one who strikes me as a person driven by emotions at times, Peter is the one who denied Christ 3 times.
Peter walked with Jesus, Peter ate meals with Jesus, Peter was there to hear Jesus’ teaching and to witness people be healed. Peter lived a few years with Jesus, twenty-four seven. Peter blew it. If I was Peter’s youth pastor I would have been truly frustrated.
Peter later stood before thousands and preached the good news of Jesus Christ. Thousands put their faith in Jesus! If I was Peter’s youth pastor I would have been scratching my head and wondering what has happened in Peter’s life?
The answer, Peter had an encounter with the living Lord. His life was changed.
We don’t know what will become of a student. The teen who we would have held up as the example of a godly youth group kid may down the road of life be running far from God or even denying Christ in his or her own life. The teen who we watched struggle and make poor choices may one day down the road bring others to Jesus Christ. We don’t know when it will “click” and they meet with the living Lord as Peter did. So what do I do?
I invest in my own spiritual life. I need to set the example.
I remain faithful to my calling. God has called me to serve so that’s what I must do no matter what I see as the “outcome”. No matter how discouraging it might be at times.
I trust God’s sovereignty. I have no clue what the future will hold for me or for the students I ministers to. God does.
I lean on the Holy Spirit in my life to give me the energy to stick with it. I focus on the successes rather than on the failures. It’s easy to get bogged down and think, “I’ve failed as a minister” when looking at the life of a student who has made poor decisions and is wandering away from Christ. All we can do is minister to them, give them opportunities to grow their faith. The student has to become responsible for their own spiritual growth and own their faith. It’s like putting out the buffet of food but the student has to fill his own plate and put his silverware to use, I can’t force feed him.
So the next time you get frustrated remember to invest, remain, trust and lean.