I spent most of my college career learning how to teach people to do ministry. So many times, I’ve had to justify why it’s important in the first place. (And fighting traditional techniques that can cause more harm than good. Soap box moment: Pre-written curriculum books come straight from the fiery pit because people think all you have to do is show up and read. They don’t put thought or life into what they’re doing. They just read from a script.)I spend 98% of my time with teenagers. People also think I’m crazy for this. So many people don’t understand how vital youth ministry is to the Church today. A few months ago, I saw I quote on Twitter from Jamie Tworkowski, the founder of TWLOHA. He had just returned from Iraq. Our mission fields look very different, but our hearts for them echo the same perspective in priorities.
Jamie spends a lot of time defending and advocating the need of mental health awareness and recovery. So many people just don’t see it for the epidemic it is. Instead of focusing his attention on convincing people it’s important, he wants to spend more time investing in the stories of people who have been affected by those things.
So, in 2017, I want to focus less on trying to convince people that youth ministry is important. I’m not spending my time shouting in the streets about the necessity to disciple middle and high school students. My primary focus is simply going to be the teenagers in front of me.
I’ve spent the past week having deep, genuine, and painful conversations with specific teenagers. Middle and High School students face a WHOLE LOT MORE than society gives them credit for. The number of people committed to showing those teens a living example of following Jesus continues to decline. Very few people see youth ministry as a priority. What it comes down to is this:
If I’m spending my time focusing on how many people don’t see the dire situation- I’m spending less time with those who are hurting because of that situation. THOSE ARE THE PEOPLE WHO NEED ME- not those who are walking around with their fingers in their ears or hands over their eyes- saying “oh, to be young and carefree again.”
If I focus my attention on those “whose lungs have known the smoke” that’s going to turn heads. Counter culture actions cause questions. People are, if nothing else, curious.That’s my open door. Focus on helping those who are hurting, and bring people along with me as I go. I’m not going to wait around for others to join me before doing what matters.
1 John 2:17 says “Everything in this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave.” This temporary life- this world, and the people in it are fading away. People who don’t know Jesus are hurting and dying. People who have never believed or have given up believing that hope is real. It isn’t just some fairy tale idea. There is real, lasting hope, and there’s only one source- and that’s in a relationship with Jesus Christ. Teenagers need to know that it’s true, and they need people who can model it to them. They need to know they matter to the Creator of the Universe.
We can either sit around talking about how important spreading that hope is OR we can reach out to those who need it. So, 2017 is the year I stop spending so much time begging people to find value in things and I go back to letting the most important thing be the most important thing.