Monday, February 3, 2014

Ministry Monday: Two Rules for Youth Ministry

I have two rules when it comes to talking to anyone about being involved in youth ministry. Rule number 1 is simple. 

Run

Run far. Run long. Run hard. But, for all that is good and holy, run. Save yourself. Don't be the hero. Just run away. 

Rule number 2 is a little more complicated. I only have the second rule because I know you won't listen to rule number 1. You'll assume I am joking. You'll think you will be different. You might assume I'm being over-dramatic, which of course would make you WRONG! I NEVER GO ABOVE AND BEYOND STATING SIMPLE TRUTH! 

See, you're only asking for my opinion because someone came up to you and asked if you would drive the youth on a trip. Or maybe they asked you to provide some food. If you're young and hip, they may have asked you to teach a class or lead a small group, perhaps be a mentor. Way to be you! 

Or maybe you're asking because you think hanging out with teens and doing all-nighters sounds like a good time. While you've clearly not reached your thirties yet, you're looking at this as a fun way to volunteer without doing something that seems more serious. 

Heaven forbid you're feeling called on by God to be involved in youth ministry. But if that's the case, I get why you're ignoring rule number 1. Which, of course, is why I have rule number 2. 

Commit at the beginning to stay until the end

I'm telling you now because there is going to come a moment. Or several moments for that matter. A moment will arrive when the discussion turns awkward, when the pizza is cold, when your vehicle smells like feet, when your spouse wonders why all your jokes include bodily noises. 

A moment will come when your advice is not taken, when teens will turn their backs, when your 'cool' will warm, when the questions will sound eerily like something you've already answered. These moments will come often, without warning. They will strike hard and fast and without apology. 

Your decisions will be questioned, your wisdom will be mocked and your sanity will be stretched. And it in those moments you will want to turn around and run. You may even remember our conversation, when I told you to run. You may think back and realize what I was talking about was accurate. But if you were to come back and talk to me in that moment, I would not tell you to run. 

I would encourage you to stay. You haven't seen the end. You haven't seen as long as you can if you just hold tight. For the discussions will turn around, more pizza can be ordered, your vehicle can be cleaned and your spouse may even join you in this journey. 

As difficult a sit may be, stay. You haven't seen the whole story play out. One more week and the crisis may change. One more month and you may even see hope where before there was only despair. One more year and you may forget that you ever questioned not being involved. 

As you forge ahead, you will see young adults heeding what you said, offering thanks for your words and asking why you did it all. You'll see the silver linings as you stay long enough to see troubled teens turn into ministry-minded adults. You may even have some of them asking to get involved in youth ministry. 

When that day comes, I hope you'll remember to pass along these two rules for youth ministry. 

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