You thrive on life change. Â That’s what makes you a youth minister. Â When life is tough, all you need is that one story of a teen finding Christ. Â Living out the Gospel and showing you that all the pain, hurt and junk you’ve been through is worth it. Â As youth ministers it’s not always about the energy, the numbers or theÂ accolades, it’s about connecting the teens to Christ.
But, is that what’s really happening in your ministry? Â Are you seeing stories of life change for Christ or something else? Â Stories of life change can happen for many reason. Â As youth ministers your hope is that they happen because of a personal and public relationship with Christ. Â That might be happening in your ministry, but then again you might be raising up the next generation of disciples ofÂ YOUR CHURCHÂ orÂ YOUR MINISTRY.
It’s a mistake that’s easy to make. Â It’s a trick the evil one plays on us all. Â He’ll make the ministry about you, about a program or even an activity. Â With those things and people comes hype, comes excitement and again life change. Â But, if the life change doesn’t point to Christ you are creating a group of disciples with shallow faith. Â That means a higher chance that your teens will Â walk away when they move away.
So, how do you know if you are pointing teens in the right direction? Â You can start by:
- Observing The Fruit:Â What path are former teens taking as they graduate high school? Â Are you finding teens becoming more public and aggressive with their faith? Â What you need to do is sit down with your team and determine what it looks like when a teen is truly living out his or her faith. Â This comes from creating a vision for your teens and coming up with signs that indicate you are fulfilling it.
- Getting Their Story: Have a teen write out their life story. Â How is God a part of it? Â Or is their life change due to people and programs? Â Help them see that God is writing their story and encourage them to give Him credit. Â Sometimes the reason you are creating disciples of your ministry is because of a misalignment, correct it before it goes bad.
- Ask Them Who They Want To Be:Â If you ask them “Who do you want to be?” you’ll see how their faith is influencing the vision they have for themselves. Â Are they describing someone who has been shaped by the world or someone who is being shaped by their faith? Â Again you can have a conversation with them that will help them see how God is shaping their future.
- Get An Outside Perspective: Talk to parents, coaches or teachers about the life journey they’ve seen in their students. Â Make sure you are connected in the community to determine the true impact your ministry is having on their growth. Â Are they only “Christian” inside your ministry or are they displaying Christ everywhere they go?
In the end each of your student has a decision whether or not they are going to follow Christ. Â You need to guide, influence and encourage them to focus on Christ. Â While you may never have a perfect success rate, you can increase Christ’ influence by pointing them towards Him.
How do you determine who a student is following? Â
Chris Wesley (@chrisrwesley)