It came out of my mouth so fast I barely had time to think about it, “You are helping them to fail.”
My friend has a videography business. He uses the best technology but has flashes back to 1992. In the conversation we were having, he recommend to someone about making DVD. My jaw just dropped, dumbfounded.
This made me thing about all the ways we fail people and especially students. Here’s my short list of how we’re helping kids fail at following Jesus.
We help kids fail when we do not discipline (correct) them
I know we are not their parents, but next to them and their teachers, we maybe the only other authority figures in their lives spending any significant time with them.
We see their faults and their failings and, if you were young like me once, you traded some of your authority for popularity. This is automatic fail in my opinion. I would trade any popularity I might have gained with those kids for another shot at telling them the truth in love.
Recently, I took our kids to camp. A young lady, who represents the Goth culture, was with us and has been a solid member of our youth ministry for seven years. She was wanting to go a bit over the top for my taste and asked her not to dress that way. I talked with her a week before camp about dress and make up and not to go over the top. She was offended and did not speak to me for the rest of the camp.
I don’t make apologies for being the the grown up in the room, and neither should you. Things have blown over and I get the occasional wave now and again. Things are warming up. They’ll get over it, or they won’t. Either way, I have to lovingly and
We help them fail by not helping students engage with basic spiritual disciplines
I recently spoke at a camp this week. The same camp I have been speaking at for 14 years. For the most part, I do not put the full scripture on my slides any longer. I put the address of the scriptures and then ask if anyone would like to read the 6-8 scriptures I have as part of my messages. I always have volunteers to read. I go to where they are sitting and let them read the verse and then I share my point.
In addition, I ask campers to close the service by “praying us out of here”. Kids love the ownership of public prayer and usually results in increased confidence and respect from their peers.
Lastly, I ask for public testimony. This is never a forced activity. I ask, “Has God shown you anything or made a difference in your life this week?” Sometimes I get a dozen hands raised, sometimes one, sometimes none. Whether anyone gets up to share or not, the offer to share their story is the point. I believe God is always at work and giving students a chance to share helps them become bolder in sharing their faith in the long run.
We help them fail by not raising the bar
We contribute to a students’ failure by not expecting more from them. This especially applies to those church kids who say they are believers and followers of Jesus but rarely dark the doors of our youth room or sit passively while everything is done for them.
Jesus was constantly asking his disciples to do thinks that were way beyond what they thought was their human capacity.
“you feed them”
“Go into all the world”
Big commands for simple fisherman and ordinary people, but how many times do we justify why we don’t challenge kids to dream big and do more?
“they’re not the cool kids”
If we’re excusing our kids because of their current condition we are contributing to their future failure.
It’s our job/calling as youth pastor to challenge students to believe God for big things, it’s the students job to receive.
Let’s be faithful with our call and let God handle our students’ hearts.