Youth ministry is safe.
Before you reply back with a counter-thought that puts me in my place, hear me out.
Youth ministry is safe because it gives you a reason to not do what you’re asking students to do.
Ever notice how easy it is to spend all your time trying to get teenagers to take a bold step with God that you don’t actually take yourself? We say things like, “Share Jesus with your friends! Bring them with you to church!”
How often are you regularly doing those things with your own peers or neighbors?
Maybe you feel you’re too busy serving students that you don’t have time to sit in “big church.” Perhaps you feel so called to your niche that you don’t know where to start with other adults.
Students don’t need another pep talk from you on how to serve their generation. They need to watch you be an example in serving your generation.
Here are some ideas:
- Print out a Google map of your neighborhood. Write down the names of the people in each home, and learn the names of those you haven’t yet met. Begin praying for everyone by name.
- Install a basketball hoop so the neighborhood kids feel free to play on it. Use it as an excuse to meet their parents.
- Instead of reading a book on the couch, head outside and read it outside. Be sure to say “Hi!” to those who walk by.
- Crank up some familiar music when you’re working on a project outside. Music can help people feel you’re approachable.
- Share chores with your neighbors, like helping them with a big project or asking them to help you with yours. Spring for lunch either way.
- Set up a “grown up table” outside for things like Halloween when people will be walking around the neighborhood. Have bottled water and granola bars available for the adults.
- Get a dog and walk around your neighborhood each day. It gives you the chance to linger without looking like a creeper. Just make sure you pick up your dog’s “deposits.”
- Do thoughtful things for your neighbors, like mowing their lawn when they’re at work. (Just avoid trimming their hedges to look like a silhouette of Moses.)
- If a neighbor has said, “If you need anything, just ask,” go ahead and ask. Sometimes you build a friendship by helping someone else feel needed.
- If you’re not in a situation where you’re close with neighbors, such as apartments or homes that are far apart, organize a board game night in your home or a community room where you provide ice cream sandwiches and the games.
I think you get the picture. The point isn’t to regard your neighbors as a project so you can get them to church and say, “TA DA!” It’s about loving your neighbor as you love yourself so the Holy Spirit can use your example to change more than one generation.
You know this won’t be easy, and you probably have all your excuses lined up. Feel free to comment and share them so we can sort them out together.
I will say this with full confidence, though– this will be more fruitful than you think.
Teenagers aren’t just looking for a great youth worker… they’re looking for a Christ-follower who is leaving footsteps they can step into.
Thank you for loving students!