Almost 2 months ago, I said goodbye to the students at the church I was working at. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. Being in town and not working at the church has been tough, especially since I live in a small town. I cannot go anywhere without running into a student or someone from the church.
Most of the adults ask about how we are doing and are concerned about us. Some of the conversations can get awkward if “church” comes up. A lot of the adults do not know what to say or how to act when that topic arrives. The students are a little different. They are concerned and ask about our life, but on a different level. Most of them just want to know if we are moving yet or how long we’ll be in town. The students do not seem awkward talking about church stuff. They usually bring it up and share how things are going.
Within the last few weeks, our family has experienced some really cool things. We have had quite a few visitors to the house. A majority of these visitors are teens. They have been just stopping by to hang out. Some have brought stuff to show us. Some have stayed long enough to eat a meal with us. All of them feel at home. They know our house and know they are welcome to be relaxed and “at home” while they are here. Recently we had a full day of visitors. From 10am til 8pm there were visitors at our house (adults and teens).
These encounters have been relational reminders to me. Youth ministry is not about putting together the perfect lesson or talk. It is not about having the biggest crowd at an event. Youth ministry is about loving students and leading them closer to God! This involves lessons, camps, retreats, lunch, sports, concerts and anything else you can do with students.
Youth Ministers cannot make this sort of connection with every student. But each student should have that connection with an adult. The measure of the impact a youth ministry had on a student doesn’t happen while that student is still in high school. Youth ministry is really a long-term ministry.
Are you willing to wait and trust God to mold your students?