Perhaps you’ve heard the phrase “every party needs a pooper, that’s why we invited you!” Every now and then I feel like my social media feed has a lot of party poopers invited.
- 5 Reasons People Are Leaving The Church
- 7 Signs That Your Ministry is Failing
- The Top 3 Things Your Pastor is Doing Wrong!
Instead of a Debbie Downer post, I would like to share a few things going well in student ministry. As Director of YS Search and YS Coaching I am afforded the opportunity to spend time at churches around the country. I listen to parents, students, search teams and youth leaders. I get to sit in on staff meetings, grab coffee with senior pastors and guest speak for groups. I am honored to help churches prepare for new personnel and get to work with great youth ministers seeking new opportunities.
Of course I do see some of the tough stuff, but I’ll tell you, in general, I am encouraged by the hopes, dreams and reality of what’s happening! Here’s a snapshot:
- Outward Faced Ministry. There is a strong desire for youth ministry to be more outward faced. Leadership is expressing a strong desire to see youth leader return to the campus and to empower students to share the good news through relationship and service. Yes, churches want a strong youth ministry program (solid weekly “group”) but I am hearing much more about students getting into the community instead of expecting community to be found only in the group.
- Leadership Redefined. I believe student pastors (and their teams) understand that “leadership” is not just what’s done upfront. Youth leaders have grasped the idea that we are to nurture gifts, skills and passions— and these attributes are not always used upfront. One body, many parts (1 Corinthians 12) is becoming a reality in many of the groups I have been able to observe and students with gifts in mercy, administration and helps are able to shine!
- Collaboration and Networking. It seems there is less pride and more self-awareness in church and youth leadership. I see student pastors asking one another for help. Whether it is within a denomination or simply in a local community, there seems to be a greater collaborative effort (networking) to reach and empower teens to use their gifts. Sometimes it’s just refreshing to hear someone say, “we don’t have the answer, but we’re willing to risk, listen and learn.”
- Return to Scripture. I have heard many times “our students are Biblically illiterate.” Perhaps for too long we (youth leaders) have taught moral behavioralism where we thought we were teaching a Bible lesson? I find it refreshing that I hear youth leaders, parents and pastors talking about teaching the Bible. My prayer is that we communicate well the living Word in such a way that teaches context and content while at the same time engages our students so that they draw conclusions as to how the Spirit is leading them to live out the Truth.
What are your observations? Do you see other things going well in your neck of the woods? Dare you to not be a party pooper!