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Every Wednesday, we hope to feature a different real, in the trenches Youth Pastor, and get their thoughts on a few questions. Want to be featured? Answer the questions below and email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
My name is Jason Walters. I’m a recent graduate of Liberty University with a degree in Youth Ministry. I am currently a Youth Pastor at Lewisburg Alliance Church in Lewisburg, PA. I am also a co-author and co-creator of onebeatblog.wordpress.com. My wife (Alicia), my best friend (Chris), and I have a passion to equip and encourage youth workers by writing articles from the front lines of the ministry. Most of our posts each week come from things that are directly affecting us at the time and we want to share the little knowledge we have with people who are dealing with similar issues or stresses.
It’s a mess so I have a little bit of everything. This includes a keyword study of 1st Timothy, a pastoral epistles commentary by Guthrie, a journal, 3 coffee mugs (1 with coffee in it), my 2012 events calendar, a school basketball schedule, my ESV Study Bible, The Celebration of Discipline by Richard J. Foster, a sky ball, and a set of headphones!
The book that I am currently reading, as you may or may not have gathered from the fact that it is on my desk, is Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster. To be honest, I haven’t read many books outside of my Bible since I graduated from college but I wanted to read this book to prepare for a series on spiritual disciplines that our ministry is starting. This book is totally rocking my world because while we call them spiritual disciplines, they are so much more enjoyable than you may picture in your head. Foster sums up his purpose in this statement, “Neither should we think of the Spiritual Disciplines as some dull drudgery aim at exterminating laughter from the face of the Earth. Joy is the keynote of the Disciplines. The purpose of the Disciplines is liberation from the stifling slavery to self interest and fear.” The fact is, our world is very self interested. Look at YouTube’s slogan, “Broadcast Yourself.” Our world is all about celebrity and not at all about responsibility. When we are committed to the discipline of following Christ, we can be set free from sin rather than tied down!
This is probably the hardest question out of these to answer because revival comes in all different ways. However, I would like to see revival start in the lives of our youth. We live in a world where our students are inundated with postmodernism and relativism. Our students’ faith is being challenged in a much harsher way than ever before and at a much earlier age than ever before. With that said, I would like to see a group of young people begin to stand up and start a revival to fight that culture that is being force fed to them. In many ways, this is a challenge to youth pastors to step up and challenge our students to live boldly and to train them so that when the opportunity comes, they will know how to stand strong!
Many youth ministries are failing in the realm of over programming. There is a church in my area who makes it their goal to have as many activities as possible available to their students. Their mentality is that if there are a lot of activities then the students will come to at least one. However, I have the opposite perspective. Our students are overloaded as it is. I have students in band, choir, basketball, soccer, lacrosse, plays, youth group, and the list goes on and on. The last thing I need to do is add pressure to their schedule and to their families. I know that a student doesn’t have to go to every event but if it was me I know I would want to. I remember the days of being in high school and going straight from football practice, to praise band practice, to youth group. I remember on Sundays (the Sabbath) going to Sunday School, “Big Church,” out to lunch, back for praise band practice, youth choir, youth snack supper, youth group, and then possibly hanging out after youth group. I am not saying that we shouldn’t have activities and programs for our students but I am saying that your million activities could be the straw that breaks the camels back. Make your ministry something that your students yearn for and something that they can’t wait to come back to. Rather than over-saturating them, make your ministry a respite for students and make your programs a breath of fresh air in a busy and bogged down world.