Root canals, reading The Summa Theologica, crossfit WOD, and youth ministry. What do they all have in common? At first glance, not very much, they may seem as a series of random tasks. Some may seem as difficult and time-consuming tasks. While to others these tasks are quite necessary and satisfying.
Not that many willing volunteers are lining up to have free root canals. But when it comes to a difficult challenge there is a lack of willing volunteers. It takes a willing heart filled with a desire to get them done.
Last year I was giving the task to lead our youth group in our congregation. This is after other potential leaders got offered the opportunity to lead the group. But many turned it down. One of the main reasons giving is that many considered working with youth as a difficult task.
In our church, the perception is that one of the toughest groups to engage and lead is our youth.
It’s understandable, youth can at times be a troublesome bunch to engage in spiritual matters. But it is nothing out of the ordinary. Leading any group in a ministerial role always poses some leadership challenges.
Learning to interact & connect with unique personalities is one of them. In his book, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, John Maxwell states that “When it comes to working with people, the heart comes before the head.”
As a leader you have to learn to connect with people on a personal level. It is in those moments that you connect with them that offer the most rewarding experiences. I have found that working in youth ministry has been very satisfying.
I Love Youth Ministry
Here are the five reasons why I love to work in youth ministry.
1. It provides an opportunity for Personal Mentorship. Your leadership role provides a great opportunity to make a positive impact in the life of a youth. Share your firsthand experience and advice when it comes to your relationship with God.
They are at pivotal point in their faith walk. They will benefit greatly from some helpful guidance. But more importantly your mentorship can help them live out their faith in a positive way.
2. It sharpens your apologetics skills. Listen to the questions that your youth are asking. During our youth bible study class I realized that they had some tough questions. But surprisingly they were the similar ones that I had as a youth early on in my christian faith. Questions that I desperately needed answered.
About eight years ago I started on a personal journey to study apologetics. Little did I know that all the time invested reading theology and philosophy would eventually pay off. Youth ministry has allowed me to put my apologetics skills into practice. Primarily what the word has call us to do: “And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it.” (1 Peter 3:15 NLT)
3. It provides opportunity to train future theologians. The first thing that I did after taking over the youth program was launch a weekly bible study class. I was already on a mission to further develop my systematic theology. Youth are great theologians. They have some awesome theological enquiries.
Leading a youth bible class allows you to really dig into some important theological issues.
4. It challenges you to clearly define your Christian worldview. I teach our youth group twice a week . This helps me understand what worldviews the youth get exposed to. It helps me get a glimpse of the thoughts that challenge their Christian faith.
The response ‘because the bible tells me so’ just doesn’t cut it.
They are seriously pondering the truth and validity of the beliefs that their parents instilled in them. They want legitimate responses. Starting a youth apologetics program not only addresses that need. It helps develop their Christian world view. And in the process it also strengthen yours.
5. You experience the joy of watching them grow in their faith. It’s personally satisfying to watch those you mentor show signs of growth in their Christian faith. It’s exhilarating to see youth develop a genuine and passionate commitment to follow Christ. To be a part of that is one of the most rewarding things that youth ministry has to offer.
I had mixed emotions when I took ownership of the youth department. At the beginning I was somewhat apprehensive due to my lack of experience in youth ministry. The other side of me was super excited. Deep down inside I was always passionate to work with youth. I have a genuine desire to make a positive impact in their lives like my youth pastors did. My hope is that your youth can someday say the same thing about their leader.
Question? What are the reasons that you love working in youth ministry?
I once got 22 goals scored on me playing goalkeeper in an indoor soccer game. My team only mustered up two goals. I was a 19-year-old kid who decided to fill in on a pickup game.
The team consisted of what I thought at the time were some 30-year-old guys. We played against a younger team, let’s just say they were not cut out to play in such a fast pace game.
For every save I made it seemed like three more goals would go in. At some point I stopped keeping score, and I refused to look up at the scoreboard. I just kept playing the game. And I prayed to the good Lord that the ground would swallow us up like the Israelites in Numbers 16.
Our gameplay was an abomination.
Since that infamous game I have gone on to play hundreds of games. And found a way to tuck that memory in the recesses of my soul, until now.
I continue to play the wonderful game of soccer (Futbol as we know it in Latin America) and I have found that if I lose a game by low score it leaves me with a more bitter feeling than a game I lost by a large margin.
Some of those games I have lost while playing on some very good teams. Other games I have won playing with some very bad teams. Despite who I am playing with I have found that if I focus too much in the results it robs me of the enthusiasm of playing the sport.
One of the most influential persons in my life was my goalkeeper coach. He taught me early to never worry about the score. To take the time to always enjoy the game you are playing, stay focused on my performance, and not worry about the results. To do the best for my team. To do the best in life.
Stop keeping score, because nobody is worrying about your personal stats.
Thankfully nobody has ever brought up that game in a conversation. Remember that game, Rudy, when you got annihilated and publicly ridiculed. No kind sir I’ve managed to overcome that after some serious mental and emotional self-healing.
Remember don’t let the results rob your enthusiasm when you are doing the things you love. Are you keeping tabs on all your wins and losses? Life is more important than checking the scoreboard and the stats.
If your life has become one big stat sheet, lining yourself on the comparison chart to compare yourself to others. You check your rankings, ratings, and grade against others growing bitter that there is one that is stronger, faster, skillful, and tactically smarter. Then you really need to take the time to reconsider why you are doing what you are doing to begin with.
Take the time today to enjoy the game. You may not always get the results you want. Or have the team around you that can offer the support that you need. Don’t let that stop you from getting submerged in the passionate joy of doing of what you love to do.
“Proverbs 17:22 (NLT)
22 A cheerful heart is good medicine,
but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength
My youth group has a real knack for letting me know when I have reached the lowest point on the coolness meter. It’s usually expressed by the sudden audacious roar of laughter and mockery.
I’m not cool, but also cool is not cool anymore. They don’t even use the word to describe anything remotely popular. Cool has lost its coolness. There are countless other alternative words used to signify the level of fashionable attractiveness achieved by the über hip. A group that clearly I am not a member of, I belong to another.
I’ve come to recognize my lack of flyness, but in the process I have a sense of comfort that I am not alone. I belong to a group that does not fit the bill of being über chic. Christians are not cool.
Regrettably I hate to drop a reality check on our popularity, but Christianity has never reached the heights of dopeness like your next pair of Toms. Which I’ve been informed by my superfly wife that they are no longer as popular as they once were. So my last sentences only confirm my nerd status.
You’ve probably have lived through that one faux pas moment. The situation in which somebody has publicly pointed out your lack of fashion sense. And it’s my duty now to do it responsibly. Christianity has reached the point of swagless status like the fanny pack and Tim Duncan’s wardrobe. Yes, that’s right Christianity is not cool, but guess what it was never meant for that.
Jesus was never considered the cool kid on the block, and neither am I. He said some things that were very unpopular with the people who were the elitist of the religious and political community.
Jesus wasn’t trending he was world-changing
He was not concerned with gaining popularity with any group. He said some very unpopular things that upset all even those who wanted to follow him.
Here is a list of some of the most unpopular things that Jesus said.
- Deny your self-interests to follow Him (Luke 9:23)
- Take up your cross (Luke 9:23)
- I am the only way to God. (John 14:6)
- He called people and their sins out. (John 4:38, John 8:7)
- He called out people doing shrewd business deals in the temple and took a whip to them. (John 2:15)
- He called one of his loyal disciples Satan (Matthew 16:23)
- He addressed his critics as evildoers and brood of vipers (Matthew 12:34)
- He confronted his religious critics and called out their errors. (Matthew 22:29, Matthew 5:20, Matthew 15:12)
There are more examples that I can list. But these are just a few to show that Jesus was not in the business of building up his social media status for the sake of gaining more followers. His retweeted stats weren’t growing through the roof. He was in the business of spreading truth. Even when truth is the most unpopular thing to share with others.
Many of his early followers abandoned him, because He presented them with some tough decisions (Luke 9:57–62). Those decisions made Jesus very unpopular. And if you choose to stand for him it’s going to in many situations lower your PHAT score.
So bust out your pocket calculator, drive that mini-van with swag, and use every dated cliché slang word to describe something that’s totally cool. Let’s be real, popularity and fame is completely overrated.
Is popularity overrated? Do you belong to the unfashionably helpless?