I totally forgot about this blog until I was sitting in a car dealership while my wife Heather's car was being worked on. I randomly remembered that this was out there. I was actually somewhat encouraged to go back and read some of the stuff from about three years ago that I posted. Its amazing how God was working in my life and how He has worked since then. He is good. And He is worth it all.
I am a Pastor to students right now in Jacksonville, Florida. Of all places, I am actually serving in the church I grew up in. Its a total blessing and something my wife and I would not trade for anything. April 1 of this year was my first full year on the job and I have been blown away by so many things. The students are amazing and team of adult volunteers truly are the best people I have ever had the blessing of serving. They are selfless and they are sharing their lives with students. I could not ask for more! Recently there are a few walk aways that I have been challenged with in student ministry and if you don't mind I would like to share them with you.
1. Invest heavy in your Middle School students
I guess there is a statistic out there that says a youth pastor's average time spent at a church is somewhere between 18 - 24 months. So for a solid two years here is a guy who is a leader, mentor, pastor, goofball.....whatever, and then he is gone. I was hit with something this weekend that may have some weight to it.
When a guy steps into a new position, generally he wants to gravitate toward the cooler core of the group. Generally, this lies within the juniors and sophomores. Please don't think this happens in every church setting and with every YP. That's not what I am saying.... but follow me. As you get close to these guys by spending time with them they will get close to you as well. They're your bros... your friends. Is there anything wrong with this? No. Follow me..... After two years your bro's and the kids you got close with graduate.
And then what?
They're gone. And you feel weird. I guess.
Am I saying this is fact. Not for all of us. But maybe for some.
What am I saying? Invest in Middle School. Am I saying that your goal for the length of time you should be at a church should be 6 years? No. But what I am saying is it would be awesome to see a sixth grader work his way through student ministry and grow "to mature manhood (and womanhood), to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ." (Eph. 4:13)
Have I got this plan on lockdown? By no means. But I love Middle School students. They bring so much life to the church. Even if they are annoying and may treat you like a human monkey bar set and try to steal the hat off of your head all the time. They are worth every second of our time. Lately they have been on my mind and heart. In the fall of last year we did a "Middle School Madness" event that was led by our High School leadership team. It was awesome! It was a Warfare theme and the kids loved it. This summer we are doing a Middle School VBX (Xtreme) and I cannot tell you how excited I am about it! I am finding that the growth is not necessarily in the event, but in the time you spend with them. I honestly cannot wait to see where God takes some of these students in their years to come.
2. Press into the ones that press into you.
A mentor in my life told me this. You will have students that want to be around you to hang out and you will have students that want that time to be mentored and go further. Press into them. Mentoring is biblical. It requires time. And honestly, at times, it can become hard to do. If it is boring to you then I can assure you it will be boring to them. But know this, there is nothing better than seeing a student that you have been spending time with and pouring into to turn around and pour into someone else. I guess the biblical word for this would be discipleship.
I have decided to fill my schedule with as many students that I can handle to mentor. Sometimes its lunch. Other students have breakfast with me. This is early! And other times we meet for 30 minutes in my office at the church in the afternoon. Whatever time you can give them, do it. And challenge your adult leaders to do the same. You want students to experience the real deal? The follow the biblical guideline of discipleship.
There are no immediate results. Faith is believing and not seeing. Read Hebrews. Its full of people that believed without seeing. In student ministry, one thing I talk to our leaders about is that you probably will not see a student completely change their spiritual life because of the few months that they spent with you. It may be years later that they come to you and remind you of the impact that you made in their life. To rest in that is to have faith. Let the work that you do reflect the faith that you in Christ. Thanks for reading. I know this probably is not the normal quick blog post under a certain amount of words to catch and keep the attention of a reader. Im really not concerned about all that. But thanks for reading it through. Feel free to comment and discuss, or tell me where I have lost my mind.