As a pastor to students, I thought I was busy until I started to hear some of the schedules of the students I was working with. Whether it’s practice for one of the three sports teams they’re on, or rehearsals for the school play, or even school work in general, I think we can all agree this generation of students is busier now than any other generation before us. So where does that leave our student ministries?
The mind-set of youth workers used to be we need to compete with the students’ outside commitments. I know I found myself many times trying to build a bigger, better, more attractive program that will persuade the students to “choose” our event over all the others. But as I was remembering our call as pastors to “GO and make disciples,” I asked myself what does that look like in student ministry? The more I thought about this, the more I was led to Jesus’ ministry to his disciples. When Jesus sent out the disciples, he didn’t tell them to go and make a big production, to attract a crowd and then begin ministering. He sent them into the communities to minister to the people where they were. What if our student ministries followed the same methodology? What if instead of trying to compete with these outside events, we met with students one-on-one or in smaller settings to invest in them and equip them to go out and be Jesus to everyone on their teams? I think we can all agree that student-to-student ministry is one of the most powerful tools there is, so why don’t we encourage it?
Now, I’m not saying we should abandon our events. I think there is great value in them; Jesus often put himself in big groups and events. But he did take the time to invest in a small number of men so they’d be equipped to go out on their own. I believe that our mind-set needs to shift from who can we get INTO our programs, to who can we send OUT. If we truly are all on the same team, why does it matter what field we’re playing on?