Over the past 5 years, I have noticed a shift in the area of Student Ministry. Student Ministry is shifting from being Entertainment / Attractional Model to a Disciple Making / Missional Model. As a Student Minister for 25 years, this shift is monumental. We must be willing to intentionally make a generation of disciples and not create a generation of well-educated, picky consumers.
I have realized that instead of leading people to say the prayer of
accepting Christ, it is more about coming out of our upper rooms of prayer empowered by God’s Spirit to lead them to a face-to-face encounter with God and a spiritual formation process played out in the cycle of believing, behaving, and belonging. This establishes a grid by which we measure our lives in relationship with Jesus. Rather than focusing on church attendance, donations, and the number of programs and events, I see that my journey must focus on getting to know Jesus intimately for who he really is and becoming shaped and formed by the power of God’s Spirit in very specific areas of my lives. In doing so, I will be better equipped to fulfill the “zip-code” ministry that God has called me to.
In order to be effective in Youth Ministry we must practice and teach the importance of authenticity. We need to help students see the authenticity of who Jesus really is. We need to help our students see that Jesus is more than just a person to call on in times of trouble. He is God in the flesh. He is a person who understands us. We can truly say that Jesus “gets me”. He knows my thoughts, my needs, and my dreams. He is not just a problem solver. When we understand this concept, then we can see the power of the cross revealed. We see a God who came in the flesh to show us how to live, how to die to our sins, and how to be raised to walk in His righteousness. Students want to be understood. They are looking for a place to belong. They want someone to understand them and identify with their struggles. We can help them see that Christ is that person. If we become an extension of Christ’s life, we can impact this generation in a mighty way. By investing our lives in students, just a Christ invested in the disciples, we will see much change.
We must keep the BIG picture in mind. We have to put people before programs. We can not underestimate the power of presence. Just being available and listening to students share the successes and failures in their life; we will make a great impact. We also must realize that we can’t minister to everyone. Not everyone wants to be ministered to. We must also practice the 50-50 rule. The 50-50 rule means that we need to balance our time between our students and our leaders. We must be able to spend 50% of our time with students and 50% with our adult leaders. Remember we are a model of relational ministry. We must be able to balance these two areas.
We need to be real and authentic with our students and leaders. Jesus was able to do this very well. His disciples saw Him in His full
glory on the Mount of Transfiguration and in His brokenness in the Garden of Gethsemane. Authenticity is really at the heart of the true ministry. When Jesus was baptized and the Father spoke his
affirmation over his son by saying “in whom I am well pleased”, we see who Jesus really was. His divine nature and human nature
were transparent for all to see. All we have to do is look. His miracles testified to his deity while his sorrow and brokenness in the Garden displayed His humanity.
My family has played a big role in shaping my life. As a child, I was expected to act like a “little man”. I had to always act appropriately. I was an imaginative child. I liked to play and was wild at times. My parents wanted me to be a well behaved child, and I was. I have seen over time that my childhood was cut short. I remember at Christmas time, we would go over to my grandparents and all my cousins would be out in the yard playing football. I was not allowed to play because I had on new clothes. I had to sit and watch. I have to watch myself now because I find myself being that way with my kids. I have decided to let them be kids. So what if their clothes get dirty. Life is too short not to be a kid as long as you can. I find myself wanting to cut loose and be a kid with my students, but I feel as if I need to be the “little man” and set the example. I am torn at times. Having fun would not compromise my ministry, it would enhance it. I have
learned to relax and have more fun with students and it has taken my ministry to a new level. I have become more genuine and my students can tell. I have become a real person to them and not a dry, adult leader.
Authentic Ministry is what every believer is called to. We are the
body of Christ. We are an extension of His saving grace. We must be willing to step outside of our comfort zone, and “dwell” with those who need to experience the love and grace of Christ.