Are We Setting our Students up for Failure?
Over the past two months I have had missions on the brain. This is mainly because I am currently overseas completing my mentoring semester (and final semester!) for Truett Seminary. I am completing this semester by joining a church planting team in Southeast Asia. For the past two months I have been mentored by a church planter and have read numerous church planting books.
Why does this apply to youth ministry?
It applies because I have discovered that the heart of youth ministry and the heart of church planting are very similar. They each seek to equip a generation to know, love, and worship Jesus and to instill a heart for the lost and a passion to see others come to know their creator. Read that sentence again and you will realize that it should apply to every believer! However, as I have read about church planting strategy and philosophy, I have come to realize that if we want to plant churches in every tribe, nation, and tongue, we need to begin with the way we disciple and train our youth. For far too long we have instilled in our youth an incorrect way to think about church.
What do I mean?
Think about the way the traditional youth ministry model functions. Students come to church on Sundays and Wednesdays, are told how they need to be reading their Bibles and such, are encouraged to bring their friends with them the next week, and then go home only to forget most of what was said as they live out their daily lives. While this is a gross over exaggeration, and I’m sure your youth ministry isn’t this way, it is the reality for many youth group attendees. This long process of attending the church and not being the church as a youth results in numerous adult cultural christians who have no clue what it actually means to be a disciple.
So whats the problem?
The problem is that for ages we have taught youth how to come to church and not equipped them to go out and be the church. More specifically, as these students become adults they flock to mega-churches where they are not actively involved in community or have become content with stagnant religious rituals. Worse, many have no heart to see the city and communities around them reached with the gospel. I think the problem is now apparent.
So whats the answer?
Great question! But, I believe it begins with instilling in youth the same passion that church planters are instilling in those they share with. They share the gospel with full intent and expectation that these new believers will immediately go out and share the love of Christ. The greatest part of this? It begins a movement toward Christ where millions come to know, love, and worship Jesus! I believe that youth ministry needs to shift toward this ‘state of urgency method’ where what is expected is not a friend brought to church, but rather a high school passionate about Christ! When did we as youth pastors lower our expectations for what Christ can do through our students? We must look back to the mission fields and remember what is possible!
So how do we make this shift?
This is what I hope to explore through a series of posts. I will be writing numerous posts about how I think we can begin to get back to viewing our students as agents of change. More specifically, I will examine the elements present in church plating movements that I believe should also be present in student ministry.
I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas on this, so leave me a comment! Also, don’t forget to upload your student ministry material so that we can together begin a youth ministry movement.