The following is a guest post by Cameron Triggs, Pastor of Youth and Young Adults at the Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church in Jacksonville, FL.
“Well done my good and faithful party planner.”
That is one phrase I am positive Jesus will not say to Youth Pastors at the culmination of human history. I am also sure that no genuine Youth Pastor worth a slice of pizza wants to hear those words. Still the pressure to entertain is inevitable in youth ministry. It does not matter if it is a room of six faithful “church kids” or an auditorium full of unbelieving students; the temptation is to tell funny jokes, present silly stories, and play dodge ball. That may get giggles and smiles from your students but it will not cut it before our Lord and Judge Jesus Christ.
Don’t get me wrong; there is nothing wrong with having fun. Yes, there is a time for that. In fact, plenty of time. Yet a simple glimpse through the world of youth ministry suggest few of us need to hear that. However, there is something wrong when “fun” has become our preoccupation and gauge for fruitful ministry.
Dear Youth Pastors, we are not activity directors for a Disney cruise ship; we are drill-sergeants and compassionate recruiters for the battleship known as the Church. We are pastors not party planners. When we get that confused we waste our youth ministry. Do you really want to waste your youth ministry?
If so, follow these ten steps…
10 Ways to Waste Your Youth Ministry
1. Don’t Pray- A wise man once said “It Happens After Prayer”. I think that is biblical. We do our ministry an injustice when we focus on strategies and tactics instead of the power of prayer.
2. Don’t Preach- Funny jokes and video illustrations aside, your youth need a pastor who preaches the word unashamedly and unapologetically. Before you give yourself to social media and social outings give yourself to prayer and the preaching of God’s Word (Acts 6:4).
3. Don’t Disciple- Jesus Christ’s last commission is our primary mission (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8). Strive to teach and equip students to image Christ in their community and church. Show what Jesus did. Teach what Jesus did. Repeat what Jesus did.
4. Don’t Associate- Isolated coals cool off quickly. The lone wolf eats lone sheep. You need to have other brothers in the ministry who do what you do and feel what you feel. Gain ideas, get encouraged, and most of all maintain accountability (Eccl. 4:9-12).
5. Don’t Go Home- I’d rather have my house in order than be a household name. So what if you’re the next Doug Fields?! None of that matters if you have a lonely wife and disengaged children. If you can’t manage home you can’t manage ministry (1 Timothy 3:5). That’s Bible. Get out the office and go home.
6. Don’t be Accessible- Are you approachable? Can the youth come and talk to you? Be there for your youth. Make it easy for them to access you. It is during those brief moments of accessibility that you truly gain authority to speak into the life of this generation. Listening to youth demonstrates that you love them. To youth, Listen = Love.
7. Don’t Delegate- You cannot do it all by yourself. Get help to free you from administrative task so you can serve faithfully as a pastor.
8. Don’t Infiltrate- We are called to be witnesses to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). But let’s be honest. Sometimes in ministry we can stay in the upper room. Many times our ministry tactics are asking the fish to jump in our boats. Instead, lets go fishing. We need to be where the students are. SCHOOL. Serve as a volunteer, coach, mentor, or simply visit a student for lunch.
9. Don’t Integrate- Call for the older men and women to disciple down to your youth. Create a culture of cross-generational discipleship not merely age segregated programs (Titus 2:1-6).
10. Don’t Live it Out- Right believing should produce right living. Practice what you preach (James 1:22) & keep a close watch over your lifestyle. Your lifestyle will be the most prominent messages preached to the youth on a daily basis. Watch over that and your doctrine and your youth ministry will not be wasted (1 Timothy 4:16).
Brothers, we are not party planners. Brothers, we are not babysitters. Brothers, we are pastors. Please let that calling impress a serious devotion to make disciples in this generation. War has been waged for the heart and devotion of this generation. We need to respond to the pressures of pastoring instead of the pressures to perform. Have fun, plan joyous activities, and do it again. Yet, never feel pressure that you are the pastoral “class-clown”. You are a pastor who will have to answer to Almighty God on how you guided his precious little sheep. Pray. Preach. Disciple. But never waste your youth ministry.