I often joke “I’m not the person you want sent out to do hospital visits; mercy doesn’t register on my spiritual gifts tests.” While I am mostly joking, mercy isn’t one of my primary gifts. I am to work at it, show it, but it isn’t something that necessarily is the most life-giving thing for me to do. However, it’s part of the “job” of being “pastor” (and I’d argue, it’s part of the job description of a Christian).
Sometimes we just have to do things that aren’t our favorite things to do, but they are good for us and help refine, reshape and retool us.
I spend a lot of time with people in ministry, and especially youth ministry (all over the country). Over the last few years I have seen a growing list of things I’d expect a youth pastor to do go neglected. Quite frankly, there are some things that I think we ought to do more, that we aren’t.
My hope is that those in ministry would use this quick list to self-assess. May it serve as an encouragement for those who are doing these things. I hope it’s a fine-tuning-tool for some who need to make some adjustments and may it be a fire-starter for those who recognize it’s time to step-up.
You’re Not Studying The Bible. I love that organizations and curriculum like Stuff You Can Use, DYM, YM360 and Orange exist– however, I believe you have become too reliant upon the writers of these curriculums to do the work for you. As a writer for one of these curriculums, I implore you, make the study your own, personalize it for yourself and then for your group. Please learn and understand the truths you’re presenting– students will recognize your convictions and can tell when they are your convictions or a script you’re reciting.
You’re Not Sharing Your Faith. It’s known that most students don’t share the Gospel with their peers because they fear rejection and they are afraid they’ll mess it up (not have the right words). However, I believe one other MAJOR reason– they haven’t had it modeled. Jesus commissioned US to “make disciples.” You are to help believers grow (mature) but we are to share the salvation message with those who don’t yet know. You want students to start sharing? Model it by talking about your experiences sharing your faith with your non-believing peers. Our students can learn and be inspired by Dare 2 Share, but you have the opportunity to impact all the more when you model it.
You’re Not Going To Them. I love helping Youth Pastors design and develop a weekly rhythm. Way-too-many youth leaders have moved away from the old-fashioned phrase “contact work.” Attending games, concerts and productions matter. Not only are you encouraging your core-student who is performing, but you’re able to use that time to meet new students, rub-shoulders with parents and likely make connections with teachers and admins who are also influencing your students. Get out!
I recently buddied up with one of our elders and visited a congregant spending a few nights at the hospital. While I wasn’t stoked about going, it was really good for me. It stretched me, but in a good way. My hope is that you can be stretched too. As you spend time in the Word (and share great talks), as you engage with peers outside the faith (and share about it with your teens) and as you meet teens (in coffee-shops, gymnasiums and auditoriums) may you experience great momentum in your ministry!