“Today’s youth pastors are the laziest bunch of people I’ve ever met.”
Disagree with it if you want. I didn’t say it, and it wasn’t an all-inclusive statement. I know plenty of hardworking and even over-worked youth workers. This comment was said by my friend in a moment of frustration.
When my youth group comes up in a conversation, I know the question will follow, “How do you get your kids?” It’s a longer story than they may want to hear. But I never tire of telling it.
The story begins with a nudge from God to give one message to a group of skateboarders that had recently lost their youth pastor. I was in my forties and had hung up 20 years worth of all-nighters and retreats. One cold December night, an “up for a challenge” church elder and I stood before those skater teens, as they demanded answers from me, an outsider who didn’t even attend their church. One look told me they needed the love of Jesus.
A few years ago a little blonde girl transformed my perspective on youth ministry. As I was preparing for a message, I sat with my Bible on one side, and a copy of Goldilocks and the Three Bears on the other. At first I didn’t think twice about my son’s book sitting there, but then I began to consider the story. I was honestly a little shocked when I found that God had something for me to learn from this timeless fairy tale.
“We're going to Ecuador!” The words ring out in a dimly-lit sanctuary. As music pulses, more lights come on and more voices ring out: “We'll be working with our denominational missionaries!” “We're going to repair the roof of their mission house!” “We're going to put on a Bible club for the village children!” The voices? Members of a youth group in a large church in the Pacific Northwest. They were presenting their upcoming mission trip to members of their congregation. Me? I was the guest speaker, brought in to inspire the adults to support their students' summer mission plans. No problem–except that I was in a quandary. What can I honestly say to these people, I thought, when I know that this trip is mostly a waste of everyone's time and money?
I am the product of good mentoring. When I was in high school, LoriJo Schepers was one of my mentors. She helped me start an outreach ministry on my high school campus. She provided powerful and effective resources. She was an encourager and a good listener. LoriJo saw something in me and decided I was worth her investment of time, money, and even the occasional rebuking.
By Adam McLane Recently, I got together with the guys from our local youth pastors network and talked about outreach. Outreach is a word which means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. I've seen churches call their Christian schools “an outreach” since there are people who aren't Christians in the school. I've seen churches call events “outreaches” that were really events where one ministry of the church was reaching out to another. I've been to evangelistic “outreaches” with a wild concert which ends with a gospel presentation. I've been to churches that call “outreach” serving the community or feeding the homeless. But what is “Outreach?”
“If you knew me, you would know my Father also.” – Jesus (John8:19, NIV)
The scene was gory and tragic, every father’s worst nightmare. The mini-van carrying Matt Stevens’ two oldest sons had flipped on a gravel strewn country road and ten-year-old Caleb was thrown underneath the wreckage. Big brother Josh, himself just eleven, comforted “Cub” by encouraging him to hold on until dad arrived.