Here we are! After months, and months, and more months, I’m ready to write the final post on Building a Student-Led Youth Ministry. Go me for actually finishing something for once!
Identifying a young person’s potential and working with them is so important. Certainly we want to set a framework for them to practice ministry, give them some trial-and-error opportunities, and help redirect them if they are pursuing a ministry for which they are not a fit. But there is one final step, and we see it in the life of Jesus.
Jesus paired his disciples. He sent them out to minister. Some came back and said “there’s this demon that we couldn’t cast out, and we don’t know what to do.” Now Jesus could have said, “You did a great job with ministry to this point. You’ve made a difference in a lot of people’s lives. Let’s just be happy with that.”
Of course that wasn’t Jesus’ approach, because He more than anyone else knows how we’re wired. After all, He wired us! And you know what? He wired us to dream big things. He wired us to want to be great. He wired us to go after our sense of purpose with everything that’s in us, and push the envelope to the furthest extent of our potential.
Often we create opportunities for young people based on what their talent is NOW. We give them only what we know for sure they can handle. The problem is if they are never stretched, they never grow. They need someone to stretch them to show them what they are truly capable of.
But you may not be the right person to stretch them. You may need to connect them to someone who is already involved in that area of service in the church, who is a Godly, strong, able mentor to take that young person to the next level. I have several students who are interested in photography. I know God wants to use their ability, but I don’t know the first thing about it. The closest I come to photography is taking pictures on my iPhone. However, we are blessed with two professional photographers in our church. So what do I do? I connect them to our photographers.
Hearing all this, probably the first thing you are thinking is…that’s a lot of work. Absolutely. It takes a lot of hard work, and a lot of patience. I’ve been a youth pastor 3 years, and we’ve had what I would consider a truly student-led youth ministry for about the past 7-8 months, where when we have youth service or youth Sunday the majority of the planning, prep, execution, etc, is handled by young people. It is MUCH easier to do it yourself. But the results speak for themselves.
The old adage is true… “If you don’t use them, you lose them.” Could our youth functions be better if our adults put them together ourselves? Absolutely. There have been times where their finished product was barely passable…and anyone who knows me knows I’m BIG on things being done well. But they feel ownership of their youth group. It’s THEIR youth group. And if seeing them grow up to serve God and be involved in the work of God is the end result, I can deal with things not being quite as perfect to get there.