Believe it or not it rained in Seattle yesterday… I know, shocking!
Though it is a little strange in August to receive the downpours we experienced the rain did more than just water my lawn and dampen my wife’s spirits. As the collected waters flowed toward our downspouts, so my thoughts grew rapid toward the fall and the return to routine.
Of course part of your routine as a youth pastor will be the return to weekly group gatherings, staff meetings and crafting some outreach events. Before you get back to the grind, you should consider four areas of recommitment we all know should be part of our DNA, but few are prioritizing.
- Commitment to the Campus: I recently (privately) asked 10 youth pastors how much (if any) time they spend on a junior high or high school campus. Of the 10, one person spent any significant time (1 hour or more per MONTH) on a campus. I completely understand that our hours can be consumed by ministering to our flock, but your encouragement to show up on their mission field will greatly enhance your ability to partner with them. But think outside of the box… what if your primary purpose is not just relationship with students on these campuses, but also to bless, encourage and build relationship with the adults on that campus?
- Commitment to Families: Most youth leaders understand the influence they have on students, but you can be very significant in the lives of the entire family of those related to the teens in your group. Without adding too much time to your schedule a renewed commitment to the parents of teens will go a long way in building community. Be creative and intentional by looking for entry points into the lives of the families of your teens. What would a youth group “bring your family” night look like? How about an hour a month was spent shooting off 7-10 personal messages to parents just for the sake of encouragement and thanks? Maybe even an “open house” at a coffee shop one evening just for parents to come and socialize with you?
- Commitment to a Network: One of my greatest joys in nearly 20 years of ministry is the network of youth ministers I call friends. In fact, in the last year alone the circles of youth leaders I run with have been able to experience life together through each of the following areas: marriages, moves, newborns, engagements, firings, hirings, separation, financial stresses, personal evangelism and much more. The word REFUGE is what comes to mind the most when I think of the two networks I am a part of. I love the guys and gals I get to partner and pray with. I love that I see THE church (not just my church) in this way. Most youth leader networks meet monthly, if you don’t know of one, certainly contact NNYM, but a simple phone call to another youth pastor in your area will probably get you on the right track. Let’s not lead from an island anymore!
- Commitment to Peer Ministry: I’ll keep this one short and sweet. We need to be pursuing peer-t0-peer (similar age) relationships with those who don’t know Jesus if we expect our students to do the same. No longer should our mantra be “bring your n0n-churched friends to this event.” Our new example should be that we are actively pursuing relationships with the unchurched. Find ways to get outside the four walls of your church personally and love on the lost. Which brings us full-circle, what if those “lost” are the teachers, coaches, custodians and administers at one of the local campuses?
As you are thinking through your routine and your fall schedule, I urge you to renew your commitment to peer-level relationships with the unchurched, to be committed to other youth leaders in your area, to love better the families of your teens and to recommit yourself to the mission field our students are at daily!