There are many memorable quotes from the Star Wars movies. “May the Force be with you”, “No, I am your father” and “Never tell me the odds” are some of my favorite ones. Well, in the movie “The Last Jedi”, Kylo Ren has a quote that is quiet memorable as well. Kylo says to Rey, “Let the past die. Kill it, if you have to”. It’s such a powerful quote that really hung over the rest of the movie and revealed how Kylo was striving to do so much more than be a mere apprentice to Snoke.
While it’s a memorable quote, this doesn’t really have to deal with student ministry much, unless you wanted to impress Josh Griffin with your Star Wars knowledge. However, Kylo’s quote to Rey and his attitude after their memorable fight in Snoke’s chambers has a lot to do with student ministry. Here is how.
“Let the past die”. The fall came and went. While there was hopefully a good amount of great things God did, we can’t focus on what just happened. We have to focus on what is ahead and how to carry over what good did happen and make sure the new year is even better.
I have been in student ministry for over 20 years and a big distractor I have always experienced to moving forward has always been living in the past. “But we always went to the mountains for our fall retreat”, “we always did 4 songs, a skit and then a message”, “why aren’t we doing a lock-in this year?” If you always focus on what you used to do, you will never get to where God wants you to be. You need new ideas and fresh direction to keep momentum going in your ministry. So don’t live in the past, focus on the future and be a vision caster of that future to your leaders and students.
“Kill it, if you have to.” Hopefully your fall was a great success. However, with all things in ministry, there were probably a few things you did that didn’t go over so well. Instead of trying to keep a dying program alive; kill it, if you have to. I know it may hold a special place in your heart, but if it is not being effective, you need to kill it so you can focus your time and energy on something else. It can often take more energy to keep a dying program or activity alive then to kill it and start over with something different.
What Kylo talked about killing the past, he also had a focus on the future. After one of the best light saber battles in Star Wars history (in my humble opinion) he also challenged Rey to join him in a great potential future with them working together. In the same way you can use the new year to inspire and challenge others your minister to and with in the new year.
For instance, you can challenge those you are ministering to to take a next step of faith. Over the course of the fall you’ve spent time with a number of students. As you have spent time with them, you probably have a really good idea about where they are at spiritually. As someone who has a personal relationship with them, use the new year to challenge them to take that next step of faith. Whether it is sharing their faith with a friend, or spending more time reading the Bible or praying or even embracing another spiritual discipline, there are a variety of challenges you can give them. Encourage them to take a next step of faith. Spend time asking God who it is He wants you to challenge and then issue the challenge to them.
You can also encourage others you are ministering to to start a relationship with Christ and follow Him. What a great way to start a new calendar year than to be a new creation. As Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:17, when we accept Christ as our savior we are new creation. Our old self is gone and a new self is born. Are there people in your ministry that you need to be challenging to begin that relationship with Christ and be baptized? Prayerful consider who you might want to challenge and encourage those you know who have been thinking about to enter in the new year as a new creation. Don’t manipulate them into getting baptized, but use the new year to challenge those you know who have been processing salvation to ask them again where they stand and what it would take to give their life over to God.
Not only can you use the new year to challenge students, you can use it to challenge your leaders as well. For instance, you can challenge them to take a next step in leadership. All fall long you have watched and observed them leading. Now is your time, as you enter a new calendar year, to challenge and encourage them to take a next leadership step. Share with them how much faith you have in them and let them know you will help walk along side of them.
Kylo Ren is one of the great villains of Star Wars history. However, his mindset to let the past die and forge a new story for himself in “The Last Jedi” is inspiring, especially as a new year is upon us. Start strong by letting the past die so it doesn’t prevent you from getting to where you need to be, killing what isn’t working and challenge those you are ministering to and with to new levels. The more you can do this, the stronger your year will be and life change that can happen all around you.