There is really no way around the fact that ministry is hard work. I am not afraid of hard work, I just wish it sometimes came about a little easier. From the time a student enters 6th grade until they graduate high school, we, as a youth ministry, attempt to be intentionally involved in the their lives.
One goal, among many for them, is found in Colossians 1:10-11.
“And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power.”
This is one of the key things I pray over my group of students because living a life worthy of the Lord is nowhere near the norm for anyone. The world is not a friend to Jesus Christ and we all know that. What is disconcerting to me is how easily some church kids are being lured away from God. There is a draw to things that are not God, are not satisfying, but are marketed by the devil as the ultimate answer. The devil is a liar; we all know that also.
As youth pastors (youth leaders), we do all that we can to step into the world of teenagers and point them to Jesus Christ. We give of all that we have in order to reach that one for Christ. There are days where we see results and there are days we throw up our hands in horror as another student has fallen off the edge and is now seeking help. It would be easy to walk away from it all and declare that we are just wasting out time with a bunch of people who just won’t commit to Christ. This is even an appealing option at times, especially when I have been dealing with several of these cases at one time. That is short-sighted, though, because regardless of what takes place in individual lives, God is at work. The blessing in it all is that I am able to walk with people in the midst of their broken lives. As a result of the youth ministries that are being run every week around the world, students are hearing about Jesus and seeing in the flesh that this Jesus does care for them. They are seeing that no matter what they do that there is a place for them to return to. It is because of these issues that we have a ministry to begin with!
Recently I was reading through the book of Amos in complete amazement at the judgement God was pronouncing on the people. It always strikes me at how easily it seems people turn on God for something else and how despite all the warnings they just don’t get it. There was one that I marked in my Bible.
“Because they have rejected the law of the LORD and have not kept his decrees, because they have been led astray by false gods, the gods their ancestors followed. I will send fire upon Judah that will consume the fortresses of Jerusalem.” Amos 2: 4
Their problem was that they had rejected God’s word and had made their own gods. The false gods had led them astray. These two go hand in hand. If you reject God’s Word, something else needs to find its way to that place in your life. Does that sound familiar?
In youth ministry, we are fighting the culture all the time. Students are being influenced by popular music icons whose only interest is to make money and steer a group of followers their way. Teenagers are throwing themselves at these stars in hopes that they will follow them on Twitter or recognize them in some superficial way. They buy every album they produce, buy merchandise and stand in line for hours to get an autograph and a photo. How does a love for some band take the place of the Savior? It is a false god, an impostor, that is seated on the throne that is rightfully God’s.
The real hope for this generation, like any generation, is in the person of Jesus Christ. He speaks to the brokenness, the loneliness and the sin problems. The biggest problem is that so many people, no matter who they are, just are not reading their Bible. They are just disconnecting with the God who actually has the answers they seek! How will anyone know what God wants and how to avoid problems if the Bible is not being read? It is a real shame.
Yes, Lord, lift us up above the world, not in a sense that we condescend, but we are spared the heartache of walking in sin. Let us be lifted up, not so that we don’t know what it is like to live in the world, but so that we might be able to help others step out of darkness and into the light. Ultimately, let us never reject your Word, but live it in such a way that others will see You and give You the glory. Amen.