I remember it like it was yesterday. I loaded up my green Honda Civic, and headed to Atlanta. I had just graduated from seminary and was on my way to a mid-size church in suburban Atlanta. To be honest, this opportunity was what I had always dreamed of – my very own student ministry, with a large budget and the resources to go along with it. As I settled into my new home church, I can remember hearing these dreaded words: “The church down the street does youth ministry better.”
Although most of us would love to believe that these words don’t matter, they do.
And they don’t just matter; they twist our thoughts so that, before long, we begin to believe that our ministry fails to measure up to the church down the street. Even worse, it can cause us to think that we’re not effective. Perhaps instead of doing something original, we just need to copy what the church down the street is doing.
In Acts 2, Jesus never calls the local church to carbon copy one another. In fact, he demands for us to love people. Yeah, it’s that simple – love people. When we love people, we think and plan around what the person needs, just like Jesus did with us. He made each of us uniquely different. Too many leaders are trying to compete with what someone else is doing. Yes, I said compete. I know it doesn’t sound nice, but it’s true. After 22 years in student ministry, I have come to realize the danger in emulating the church down the street.
Let’s focus back on Acts 2:42-47. I love this passage not just because Jesus is laying the framework of the local church, but also because of the creativity that Jesus brings to the passage.
Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. (Acts 2:43)
Jesus is disclosing to the early church that he is the one who brings awe and wonder. As student leaders, when we decide to follow the creator in reaching students, I truly believe that Jesus will bring the awe and wonder. So the next time you struggle with wanting to mimic the church down the street, remember the following truths:
- Jesus desires for you to ask him how to reach your students that are far from God. Your primary source of wisdom not whatever model the student pastor down the street is embracing.
- By being creative, you are never more receptive to the desires of what the Holy Spirit wants you to do. Remember to embrace awe and wonder.
- When we are asking God to give us his dreams and desires for reaching students, we will find something that only he can give – individual wisdom. Remember that we are asking students to follow him, not the church down the street.
I truly believe that when we compare ourselves to Christ, and not the church down the street, than we will find the growth that we are looking for, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.
And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:47)
Maina Mwaura loves to provoke thought to student leaders minds. He is the husband of one wife and the has a two year old daughter name Zyan. Maina, lives in Huntsville, Al. He can be reached atMAINASPEAKS.COM