I was thumbing through the Bible the other day-believe it or not, I, a youth worker, was just reading the Bible for fun and not preparing a message-and I came across this verse:
Now out of the ground the LORD God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field (Genesis 2:19-20 ESV).
Can you imagine what that would be like? You’ve just been created. You’re sitting naked, the only human being on the planet. Everything is brand new on the earth. You’ve never heard anyone refer to any animal or bird by name. All of these weird-looking creatures around you, none of which resemble you in any way, and God says, “What do you wanna call them?” How do you start? What do you say? Did Adam look at that pink long-legged bird and say, “I think we should call that thing a flamingo”? Or look at the large furry animal and say, “That’s a bear.” Or look at the creature with sharp teeth and a mane and say, “That over there is a flatcher. No, wait-a lion.”
Adam probably didn’t have any training. He didn’t have a degree in zoology or biology. All he knew was that God gave him the job of naming every living creature that walked the earth and flew in the heavens. So what makes us think that our students can’t play some huge part in our ministries? I am convinced, as I’m sure you are, that these students have a great understanding of what teenagers like because, well they are teenagers who have likes and dislikes. So let’s hand off some ministry to these students and see what they do with it.
An example in our ministry is that our student leadership team plans our high school winter retreat every year. The theme. The small group assignments and small group questions. The games (which they also organize and lead while at the retreat). The shopping. The schedule. The shirt colors. They plan the retreat. The first year I thought about doing this, I was scared to death. I thought that no one would like the retreat as much if I didn’t plan the whole thing. (For some reason, I actually believed that I was the almighty winter camp guru.) It’s humbling when staff and students come back saying, “I think this is the best retreat we’ve ever been on.” They were even asking for more small group time instead of my preaching (kind of humbling). The retreat was a great success. The group bonded more than I had ever seen it bond-and I had almost nothing to do with it.
Adam was trusted by God, with no training or experience, to name the animals. I think students can handle ministry stuff too. Our job as pastors is to prepare students for “works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up” (Ephesians 4:12 NIV). Isn’t it interesting how God didn’t put an age requirement on that?