There is an ever-growing conversation around the end of youth ministry as we know it.
Whether it be the end of paid full-time positions, the end of weekly youth group meetings, or the end of youth ministry altogether. At times these discussions get deeply heated and personal. After all, as youth workers, we strongly feel that God has placed within us a deep love for students and a deep concern for their faith journey with Jesus. Youth workers are a rare breed, but our ministry to and passion for students is no less than one’s ministry and passion for adults or missions. God has called us, and we have answered.
What we do matters. Likewise, what we teach matters, and by teaching I mean the things we speak and the way we live. Our messy and authentic relationship with Jesus gives us credibility as youth workers. Christ is our identity – He is the one we strive to imitate, He is the one we exalt, He is the one we pass onto all our students.
I recently finished a book for ordination, and it ended with a message from John Stumbo, our denomination’s president: “We don’t know what structures we build will endure and which will not. Meanwhile, we do know that we ourselves – in an earthly sense – will not. Like all who have gone before us, our bodies will be laid to rest. But we also know this: our message endures. Our message will outlast our structures, our bodies, everything, for it is the message of Christ, it is the message of the ages, it is the message for the nations, it is the message that ultimately brings Christ’s return. The prophets of denominational doom (youth ministry doom) have their place. But I am utterly convinced that we have our place as well. And, our place is to stay on the front edge of the work of God in this world.”
Churches may drop full-time workers down to part-time, or they may get rid of the position altogether. Students won’t always remember the clever series we’ve worked so hard on developing. Parents will continue to go against the things we strive to develop within them and their kids. Youth workers will continue to be overlooked and under-appreciated. The person taking your place will add their own vision to the ministry, and they’ll most likely cut out the very things you’ve spent years trying to develop. Certain “structures” and “messages” will either endure or pass away, by our hands or someone else’s.
The message of Christ, however, will endure. Our influence on students in their journey toward and with Christ will endure. Our love for Jesus and others will be remembered.
We’re not in youth ministry because of the pay, perks, and position. We are in youth ministry because God called us to speak His truth into the generations below us. He has called us to equip them with the means to live out an authentic faith, and proclaim truth that transforms lives. The awesome thing is, we don’t need a “youth room” to do this. Anywhere we meet students is our “youth room.” Nor do we need a church paycheck to do this. God has already invited us on stage to participate in what He is already performing. We take our cues from Him. And before we realize it, we’re on stage with millions of other people, moving towards the same goal: telling the coming generations of our glorious God!
Be encouraged today. Youth ministry as we know it may pass away, but our calling from God will endure.
For you and with you,
Shawn / @611pulse