Let's be real...If you have done ministry for any length of time whatsoever you have asked yourself this question. Being in ministry is one of the hardest jobs there is out there. Watching kids you pour your life into just walk away from everything you taught them to go live a life that is not what God planned for them. There are days when you drive out of the parking lot with a sense of purpose and knowing that this is what you were called to do. While other nights you drive out of the parking lot believing by faith that someone got something that will change their life. I can't tell you how many nights when I was first starting out in ministry I would turn out the lights after one of our student ministry nights I would whisper this question in my heart.
Every summer we do our high school internship. We believe in ministry leadership and discipleship is caught more than taught. So in the summer we give 7 weeks to pour into teenagers. They spend nearly every waking moment doing what we do. By the end of the summer it is amazing how much they change and develop as Christians and even more as leaders in their generation. The passion that me and Bryan have becomes their passion and their view of the church and life changes drastically.
Still the question often remains....Why am I a youth pastor?
This Tuesday our high school interns each preached a message. It was so powerful. As I watched them preach I began to realize this is why we do what we do....
Ministry really is not about lights, games, events or retreats. It isn't about being trendy, edgy or crazy. It is about only two things:
1. Giving them roots
2. Giving them wings
So many times as a youth pastor I have never truly gotten it. I thought it was about being the best out there or making sure it was fun. I more convinced than ever that it is about providing a place where they get roots. Where they find out what they believe and why they believe it. We as a church must be sure that we aren't preaching good ideas but that they are learning what the Word of God says about their life. I want them to know not what I think, but what God thinks about them and their life. That is what makes all the difference. It is the truth you believe that liberates and sets you free. To establish good roots we must have an environment of love. I am old school enough to believe that you can change any persons life by loving them where they are. Everyone already knows what they aren't. They knew their short comings before walking into a church. They need us to remind them WHO they ARE in CHRIST. When they realize this their roots will begin to grow.
Ephesians 3:17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God's love and keep you strong
Secondly we must be a place that we let them have wings. Let them do what God has called them to do. A leader once equipped if they aren't released into their purpose becomes frustrated. We must provide an environment where they are able to do what God has called them to do. Whatever that may look like my job as their pastor is to facilitate that and encourage them in their gifting. I love what my Pastor has always taught me: "Leadership is easy it is providing an environment where people believe nothing is impossible and that they can do anything. It is also providing a place that if they do fail we help them get back up again." Jesus has called us not to be just hearers only but also doers of the word. For that to happen I have to make sure they have wings as well as roots. I love the story in the Bible in Mark 6 where Jesus sent them out and the Bible tells us that many came back telling of all that happened. Make sure in your church that you teach the word, but that you also are sending them out to do what God has called them to do.
Last night I watched them preach and my heart was so full. Success in ministry IS NOT big numbers. It isn't having great events. It isn't being well known. It is watching your students go from sitting in a pew and learning to now being able to teach what they themselves know to be the truth. This is why I am a youth pastor.....To watch a generation answer a call that has been sent to them sense the foundations of the earth. To watch them rise to their God given potential.