“I don’t get up in front of people, I don’t teach, and I definitely don’t lead small groups.” Ahhh, the words every new youth pastor loves to hear from an Adult Leader! It immediately became obvious that Jason (the Adult Leader who was so eloquently quoted) and I held very different views of youth ministry. But the evolutionary process that he was about to experience was a change that would make even Darwin blush.
Instead of writing Jason off and making him another casualty of my leadership style, I decided to do what God tells all youth pastors to do – “equip the saints for the work of the ministry.” This means more than just shoving the newest curriculum into his clenched hand and throwing him into a room filled with wiry adolescents who are foaming at the mouth. Jason needed to be developed and trained, which are the oft forgotten components of equipping.
After scheming how to mold Jason into an all-star Adult Leader, I invited him to simply sit in on a nine-week Jr. High boys small group which I was leading. Initially, his only mission was to observe what was going on (although I had other plans, he-he-he). After he became comfortable with the cannibals, I then asked him to facilitate a couple of questions in the group. He rose up to the task and accomplished it with flying colors.
After the small group concluded, I asked him to help me with an evaluation, noting some strengths and then looking at weaknesses. We both agreed that the group was a little large and could be split in half. And guess what Jason did?! Instead of leaving me hanging high and dry to find a Jr. High boys small group leader (which is next to impossible…I don’t care what Matthew 19:26 says), Jason actually jumped in and said that HE would be totally stoked to lead one of the small groups!
This Spring, there is more than just flowers blooming. Add to that one Jr. High boys small group leader who is opening up and being used of God in ways he once thought unimaginable. It is the result of a twelve-month process involving relationship building, intentional leader development, and a lot of encouragement. But, all of this did not happen overnight – and it can’t stop overnight. Jason will still need to be developed and trained, but so far his life and ministry make me smile.
Maybe, just maybe, Darwin was right. Evolution does occur, especially when Adult Leaders are given a vision of where to go and given the tools and time to get there. Instead of excuses, I’m hearing those words every youth pastor loves to hear – “I definitely lead small groups.” Now, if I could just work with Jason on that speaking in front of people thing…