the dare...

I am currently doing a 30 day challenge devotional book, by Josh Mayo, called "The Dare". This book is REALLY kicking me in my gut, side, and knocking me around in my head. It is a challenge that is trying to break the chains and bondage that we currently have, that tie us down and bring us away from God.

Josh Mayo is a youth pastor out in Arkansas. He says, in his author bio, that he has over 100 students coming ON AVERAGE to his youth group each week. Now in Doug Fields' book, "My First Two Years in Youth Ministry" he tells us not to play the numbers game. Am I the only one that has a hard time with this. You see NUMERICAL SUCCESS in other youth groups and you wonder, what is it about mine that is not working?

I have thought about this a lot. Youth pastors try to compare and share youth ministries. Some churches have over 500 students come. Some have 5 students come. When we focus on things like this, we miss out on the relationships with the students that are THERE NOW!

It took Jesus 3 years to disciple 12 men that changed the world. Why do we want a microwave youth ministry? Why do we want everything now?

In recent months, I have learned to be patient. Being at a new church, I have to have time to develop the plan God has for this group, while also aligning the vision of the youth group to that of the church. We must all remember that youth ministries are NOT their own church. We are a branch of the "Big Church".

I am trying to find a balance that helps this ministry grow. Right now, I am not super focused on the numbers. One week we can have 50 and one week we have 23. We MUST find a balance to reach these students relationally and be where they are. Here are some ideas:

1. Eat lunch with the students at their school! I personally have not done this yet, but it develops a good bond with the students and also with the school. You never know when the students will call you from school because they need something. It also develops good relationships with the school.

2. Go to their games! Find out schedules and obviously you can't be everywhere because we have families and lives as well. Find adults that are willing to invest in the students and send them to games. It will mean more to them than you know.

3. You MUST have a good adult leadership team. This is my biggest struggle. The one thing I see missing is adult leadership and volunteers. I have college students that invest their time, and one intern I pay pennies to be here, but we must find adults who love students. This is what helps grow ministries numerically.

4. PRAY! Throw the hail mary every week and say to God that this is it! You, the youth pastor, may be the only way a student hears "The Good News". BRING IT EVERY TIME YOU SEE THEM!

These are steps I am taking. I am doing "The Dare" and I HIGHLY reccommend you read this and take the challenge as well. These points are nothing new, just helps me in ways and hoping I can help others that may be struggling with the same challenges.

What are some things you may be struggling with in your youth ministry?


CJ said...

Mark, even though I am no longer a youth pastor, I love keeping up with what is going on in the world of student ministry. Your 4 points are dead on, and while, as you say, they are not new, they are often overlooked. I will be checking out "the Dare." Thanks for your ministry!

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