When was the last time your youth ministry program led someone to Christ?
When I was in high school, I didn’t know Jesus. Actually, up until grade 9 I had never been in a church building. I was always the skater punk who didn’t want anything to do with religion. Especially, those weird Christians. I knew about Christians, but I never really knew about the God they followed. I knew all the rules of things I couldn’t do, but I never really heard about Christ.
It all changed when one summer, a youth worker started to hangout at the skatepark with me and my friends. This youth worker spend days and nights with us hanging out, drinking slurpees, and having a blast. Over those months we built a relationship that allowed this youth worker tremendous influence into my life. Looking back, it was the turning point in my life. It brought down the walls that held me back from knowing and following Christ.
Looking back on my life, I had to have a relationship with the youth worker before I was willing to check out the program. This youth worker realized that the program wasn’t the goal, the relationship was.
I often look at my own relationships and wonder if I am emphasizing the program for the relationships. It is easier to invest time and money into a program; It is difficult to invest in people, especially teenagers. Teenagers are messy, and crazy, but they need Jesus just like the rest of us. They also need relationships like the rest of us.
Over the summer, it is a time of reflecting for me, and my youth ministry. It is a season where we destroy the program. That means we do no programs! We hangout with people instead. There is no hours invested in planning events for students to attend, and what we do is invite students to hangout with us. We destroy the program and build relationships.
It is a season that always helps clarify the reason why I do youth ministry.
What does your summer look like?
Do you shift gears? or do you create more programs and more events?
In Matthew 22:36-40, Jesus’ disciples were asking him what was the most important command, and he said this, ”
36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Did you notice he didn’t say build more programs? He said, “Love God, and Love People”. Why is it so hard to do these two things?
When I get stuck in the program mode for too long I realize that my ministry has become about me and the numbers that follow a programatic ministry. When was the last time you shut down the program for an extended period of time? How did you feel during that time? How did people respond?
Looking back to when I was a teenager. I am thankful that someone shut the program down for the summer. I am thankful that they spent time with me. I am thankful that they spend time investing into my life to share Jesus with me. I am thankful that God used that youth worker to change my life.