Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Be Encouraged, Your Youth are Ready to Lead

As mentioned last week, social media has changed the landscape of youth ministry. By training the youth to become content creators instead of solely being consumers, “the why” of today’s youth ministry is shifting. Instead of the task of “getting them saved” and hoping that they make friends during the process, our culture now calls for us to equip our youth and address 2 needs: that they not only understand their spiritual gifts, but that they also consistently put them to use for the benefit of the Kingdom of God.

In the midst of this transition from a task-based approach, we provide information as to how they can change their world within the context of a relationship with Christ. It is from the collision of faith and life that the students of today grow in their relationship with Christ. Through a consistent engagement of their faith within the context of relationships, the church is then able to help the student understand what gift(s) the Lord has blessed them with so that they may be able to begin shaping the calling that the Lord has placed on their lives.

It’s similar to the older models of youth ministry, but there’s a subtle shift. Just how media today is moving towards an on-demand and interactive approach that grants control to the individual, the church must also move away from one-direction programming or education and instead move more toward a collaborative and engaging model of youth ministry that serves alongside the students (rather than at the students). The model of youth ministry that I’ve just outlined here may cause some anxiety and cause you to jump ahead on the logistics. “So you’re telling me that the students should run everything?” Well, kind of, but not really. You as the youth pastor are still at the helm (and I certainly would not suggest that a church should eliminate all of its traditional programming). How a student-led ministry looks will differ depending on the resources available and the size of the ministry, however the principle of letting students lead remains.

Having a student-led youth ministry may not sound achievable right now (or at best, extremely daunting). Your students’ interest in youth group may not feel like it is at an adequate level in order to make this happen. Your supervisor who lived in the glory days of program-based youth ministry may brush aside such a preposterous concept. The parents of students in your group may raise an eyebrow when you hand a microphone to their student to have them share their testimony or preach a sermon. However, this is expected. Before being distracted by the naysayers and the doubtful stares, it is important to prayerfully consider that whenever we venture into unknown territory, there will always be uncertainty and a bit of fear. Even the Israelites experienced this when seeking the Promised Land. If it wasn’t for a courageous few like Joshua and Caleb who saw through the fear, it’s possible that they may have wandered another 40 years (Numbers 13:30-14:10). The moral of the story? Be encouraged. Be a Joshua or a Caleb, because our youth today doesn’t have another 40 years to wander.

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