How do you pastor youth if you don’t have any teenagers to work with?
This was the million dollar question people asked me when I resigned from one church in order to start where I presently serve. And the question was a fair one. In fact, I was asking myself the same thing. The congregation I was heading to had no youth group – actually, they had no teenagers period, much less pre-teens. However, I knew God was calling my family and I to serve this small church in Greenville, OH. I could no longer ignore His pull.
This year, my daughter is a junior higher (which is another post altogether), and there is a girl her age that comes to our church every other weekend, when she visits her grandparents. This is my youth group right now. And while some would count this as a huge setback, the Lord is causing me to see nothing but blessing and possibilities. Whenever I’ve asked God what I should be doing, there has been a few specific areas of focus impressed upon me. One of the things being to serve the local Youth for Christ chapter that meets in our church on Monday nights.
Our church has a great youth area, and for many years now they’ve allowed the local YFC chapter to meet there free of charge. I first had mixed thoughts about, mainly because I was unsure how to approach the situation. Still, I became a volunteer leader on Monday nights, and while I sometimes give input, I generally help out with games, small groups, and cleaning up afterwards. For me, the role I feel God has asked me to play, beyond interacting with students, is helping the head leader, Tim, and the ministry of YFC shine.
You’re here to serve, Shawn, I feel God speak every night I head downstairs.
Since helping out, I’ve developed a good friendship with Tim. In fact, we meet weekly for lunch, discussing life, faith, hardships, and what it means to be the church. It was during one of these times that Tim mentioned he was new to youth ministry, and was struggling with some areas. I already knew God was asking me to take Tim under my wing, to serve him and with him. So when Tim asked me to mentor him, I knew the answer to give.
For me, this has brought a shift in the way I lead. Sure, I’ve heard talks, read scriptures and books on how to be a servant leader, but I’m not sure I’ve actually (and honestly) applied everything I’ve been taught. Until this season. During this weird transition, I’ve been understanding John 13:12-17 in a deeper way. Not only do I get what Jesus said, but I’m finally putting flesh onto it, too. “And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example to follow.”
Additionally, I’ve been learning that in order to pastor effectively, I must be willing to serve below my given “title.” It is through the servanthood of Christ that we see the heart of His Kingdom. He is teaching me that in serving other leaders, I have a right to be a leader myself. In serving other ministries, I have a right to have a ministry myself. If we are truly on the same team, then let us truly serve each other’s team without hesitation.
I would love to hear your thoughts.
With you and for you,