I recently saw a commercial where Clay Matthews, linebacker, for the Green Bay Packers is promoting Fat Heads. He has the different versions of himself all over one room and frequently goes into that room to make him feel better about himself. I understand it’s a marketing thing for us to be drawn in by his shallow humor and self-centered approach in the commercial but, the scene portrayed is one that youth pastors ought to recognize and run far from as quickly as possible.
An “It’s all about me” mindset will quickly drown a youth ministry and it’s effectiveness to reach the next generation with the message of Christ’s redemption. It has no place and any youth pastor that doesn’t evaluate and change that mindset should just pack up and leave. Harsh? No…considering the lingering effects that this storm can leave in it’s wake.
The real framework behind a successful ministry is not solely the person standing up front talking. Yes, youth pastors get the stage weekly to give a message to their students, but what isn’t seen is really a major part of any youth ministry.
All of the people in these categories are integral parts of a youth ministry setup and although normally can go unnoticed I noticed them last night and will give thanks and credit to them today through this post. Don’t take for granted these people.
The Encouraging Parent: This is a gold mine! These parents are irreplaceable in my mind. You cannot put a value on a parent who breaks the typical sterotype and supports the ministry their students attend weekly. These parents can be a youth pastors greatest allies, as mine are, along with the massive amounts of support they give daily. Many times their support goes unseen except the cards, facebook wall posts and words they share with their support of being their students youth pastor.
The Go-To Guy: Sam is his name…some students call him my personal “hype-man”. Having been a student in a previous church he understands what I am trying to do. He knows the process and has become a friend. This bond is one that takes time. There is no price on how he just knows what I’m thinking or understands when I explain a plan and then successfully carries it out. Any youth pastor who has a former student come back, especially to a church where he didn’t know anyone to start, should always remember to give thanks. Sam is my other half.
The Chef: You can’t go wrong with good food. This person is often times a member of the church who wouldn’t normally attend a youth event. The years have passed where loud music, incessant screaming and teenage antics are appealing. However, if you give them advanced notice they will most likely turn your group’s food experience into a party in the mouth. In our case I have moms who, at this point, fill this role. I’ll hold them close and thank them a lot. I like food and they are good at cooking.
The “Success-Story”: Youth ministry can be trying at times, especially when you don’t see the fruit of your labor. One of the greatest assets to the mind and heart of a youth pastor is to remember those students who take the meeting times as a time for personal growth. In the midst of tragedy, watching students walk away and step into lifestyles of addiction, or even ones that just don’t care can weigh on the heart of a youth pastor. For me, the Go-To Guy is one of my success stories. Sam went through a lot in high school, but he held on and even lived with me and my roommate for awhile when he needed a place to go. There are many more who are now seeking record labels, working through college to choose careers, maturing to be moms and dads, making their mark by working up the ranks in our military…I smile and am joyful as I remember them. Remember often…our work is not in vain, but it is much bigger than ourselves. Perspective is key.
The Honest Student: If you hang out with students long enough one of these come along. They will let it be known if people don’t like the upcoming event or if the game they just played is over-done or stupid. Don’t choke them out or get upset…instead thank them and encourage them to give ideas. Likely, they have heard what students are interested in. They are the insider to things we might not otherwise know.
All of these are important parts of what I do. I am one man and without these I cannot do what I am doing now. I am hopeful and excited as I stand beside these people to invest in the lives of our students. We each play a part, it’s a family and a team. So, thank you for what you do and for all the encouragement and love you pass my way. It doesn’t go unnoticed and together we will develop and grow up the next generation. May God get ALL the glory.
**This blog was altered from an article at ChristianLeader.com by Benjer McVeigh.**