end of the world...

As youth pastors or people who are in ministry, let me ask a very random question: How are we going to prepare for the end of the world?

I'll let the thought sink in a minute. How much are we really changing the lives of the students in our group? It has come to my realization that we are more friends than youth ministers/pastors/directors/shepherds...whatever your title is. The fact of the matter is that we are constantly involved in our students lives in one way or another and how are we turning the spiritual corner?

I was at a youth minister meeting recently. We sat around in a circle and we discussed the great things happening in our youth ministries. I went last. I heard 7 youth pastors tell me "We are having GREAT numbers with our youth rally we just had", "I swear, I keep seeing more and more kids coming to our group, and I just don't know what to do! God is really in control", and the best one was "We are having so many kids, we literally had to open up an overflow room!"

That's great, we achieved step one of the ministry goal. We attracted students to step into our youth rooms or buildings. Now what? I asked that question to the youth pastors around me. I told them my numbers were great for what I felt God was pushing our group in. We have about 30-35 kids come in my group in any given week. Fantastic. I am disciplining these students to prepare them for a life of eternity. When I asked the other youth pastors, because I was curious, how they plan on turning the spiritual corner with their students and stop being the cool guy up front who is funny and has to go bigger than the last time to live up to this proverbial hype he has pressed on himself?

Youth ministry has turned many corners and has matured in many different ways. It went from Sunday school teaching in England in the late 1800's to a full time position of the church. Obviously, the church see's the youth ministry as a strong portion of their church. I am just as guilty as the next person. I constantly play the numbers game. I compare my group to other groups. I sometimes ask WHY CAN'T MY STUDENTS GET IT LIKE THOSE?!?! However, coming to the realization that God has placed me in a position that is to teach the students I have. Whether it is 700 or 12, I can help change the hearts of those students around me, to start an overflow in our community.

Recently I started praying for a revival in my youth group to happen. My students are ready to be in the field of where God is. They are ready to be actual servants of Christ. Why aren't we, the paid position leaders of the church, ready to be a servant of Christ? Did Christ tell me in John that I need to throw big concerts, play messy games, have cool technology and make sure I am talking on the most relevant points to reach students? Maybe that chapter was left out.

It is my understanding that Jesus told us to proclaim HIS name and to teach HIS teachings so that HIS kingdom will grow. Not my group, not MY kingdom, not ME! God has called us to teach those about loving God and loving others to God. Shame on me for letting my parachurch type ministry lead a way of shallow ministry. We need to be a mile wide and a mile deep.

My pastor said to me recently that he wants a spiritual awakening in this church. He wants this church to be turned upside down and to start a revolution in our small community. Not to attract people to our pews or chairs. And NOT to bring in more money. He wants to bring people to their knees so that they can depend on the one true God.

I am praying this is the same vision for my group. I am praying that my youth ministry, the ministry that is not it's own church but merely a branch of the main church, is going to start producing some major spiritual fruit.

I am not coming down on youth pastors. I myself, threw a giant concert. I play the messy games. We have all the cool technology....via microsoft and not apple. However, I have learned that I need to have endurance to plant seeds. I will pray with students when they need it. I will ask them their opinions. I will invest in their lives. It is then, that God will start to grow in their lives and in mine. I am 25, and I still have A LOT to learn about youth ministry. I am not perfect, nor will I ever be, but I am preparing my students to die to themselves and for me to die to myself DAILY and take up my cross and walk in the path of the perfect creator who created me to be creative for the kingdom.

Are you dying to yourself daily? Are we REALLY spending time with God when we need to be? I am not all the time. I strive to, but I let things get in the way. The spirit of God is stirring the hearts of a generation that is ready to serve. That generation sits in my group on Sunday nights and Wednesday nights. That generation also sits in your groups and during your meeting times. They also sit on the football field, the baseball field, at home alone because their parents are never home. They sit at lunch by themselves because they might be socially awkward. They may be dying inside today, that causes them to end their life.

What are we doing as youth pastors to prepare our students and ourselves for the end of the world? I can't tell you I know when it is, but I do know one thing.....God loves me for me today. He loves you for you today. He always will. And we as youth pastors/ministers/directors/volunteers, need to love our students and other students to God, so they can love and know the same God we know and talk about almost every week.

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