In youth ministry it is so easy to get discouraged when you look at a group of students who, for the most part, are spiritually stagnant. What do you do?
1. Go to the Word - are we starting with the Bible as our foundation to youth ministry?
2. Pray - Pray that your heart is right where it needs to be. Pray that students get a passion for Christ like they have never had before.
3. Evaluate - are we being effective in students lives?
4. Improve - find the areas of the ministry that need work and work on improvement.
5. Continue - continue to invest your time and resources in to their lives. Continue to reach out to students who don’t know Christ.
6. Realize - realize that all we can do if we are doing the first 4 is to continue to put the buffet our there. The students have to decide for themselves to pick up the plates, load it with food and starting eating. (somehow I feel compelled to use food as an illustration) Realize that we can’t force students to grow spiritually, it is a choice that they must make for themselves. Realize that not every students will be a Billy Graham. Realize that the students are a mirror reflection of the adults in your church.
Youth Ministry is like financial investment, sometimes you don’t see the return for several years.
This morning I stopped in a local coffee shop for a cup of the Tortuga Lie blend. I walked in and there was a young man standing there that looked familiar. It clicked for both of us at the same time. He said, “Andy right? From Nags Head Church?” I said, “Yep! And you are *Ted.” (thankfully God helped me to remember his name). Ted was no spiritual champion in high school. I noticed Ted had on a t-shirt that was the face of Jesus on superman’s body. I also noticed that Ted had grown a foot and a half. Then it happened!
The Return on the Investment.
“Ted” began talking about his relationship with God. “I strayed during my high school years and wasn’t in a good relationship with God. Now that I’ve graduated I’ve stepped back and taken a look at where I’m at. I’m going to church. I’m staying around here and taking classes at the community college until I figure out what the Lord wants me to do.” I didn’t even have to ask probing questions he just started sharing his story.
Boom! Cha-Ching!! That was the pay off!
“Ted” has no idea the encouragement that he was to me this morning. He has no idea the tears of joy our conversation has brought on me as I sit in my office and think about our “by chance” meeting at the coffee shop this morning.
Here is the deal. Over the past 20 years of working with students I have seen some go on to really be productive in their relationship with God. I have seen many, many more fall by the wayside. There are many who I have no clue at this point how their life has turned out or will turn out. You see change can happen when they are 18, 28 or 48, we don’t know when the investment will “kick in” and pay off.
BUT if “Ted” were the only one to have been impacted by our church’s youth ministry in the past 11 years (and he’s not) then the investment of the past 11 years of the youth ministry team of our church was well worth it.
SO . . . . keep investing!