You don’t know it’s happening until it’s happening, and it was happening to me. I had heard about rip currents in Florida and now I was caught in one. I was slowly being dragged out t0 sea. I started to panic, then I remembered my escape, swim parallel until you are out of it. I swam and swam until I was able to make some progress towards shore. I crawled up on the sand, exhausted, thankful to be alive.
This is what is feels like for me when I’m caught in a downward cycle in youth ministry. I feel like I’m drifting further and further from shore and there isn’t much I can do about it.
Lately, I find myself in such a place. I graduated a ton of kids out this year. A ton of kids got jobs and I watched a solid group of 35 drift to down to 16. We didn’t make any major changes. Worship was still kicking. Preaching was on point. Games were still happening. There was no one reason for our youth group to drop like this.
Like a rip current, a cycle doesn’t care if you’re a great speaker, a fun guy, or a super Christian. A cycle, like the Terminator, has no feelings, it just is and destruction follows. Yes, I know, very dramatic, but it’s an emotional thing to go through when you have no one or nothing to point a finger at. So, how am I escaping the wrath of of the rip tide?
I am swimming parallel. Instead of posting my woes to social media and getting pity, I continue to pray, promote, praise God, and stay positive about the students who still come. This is a cycle and a cycle doesn’t last.
Pray Parallel – I am praying prayers in the now. I don’t pray to go back to the past but about the adventure God has me on right now.
Promote Parallel – I continue to make announcements, like the one below, and advertise who we are, what we do, and build faith in those who and coming and those who are not, to let them know there is still a place to come home to. I don’t oversell and I don’t sound desperate.
Praise Parallel – Like prayer, I praise God for what He is doing in the lives of the kids I am able to minister to. I praise God for who he is, that he loves me and will continue to love me through this cycle.
Positive Parellel – I don’t share my woes publicly. I don’t get down publicly. I don’t post or whine on social media looking for pity. I found the silver linings of my meetings and every interaction with a student. I stay positive because to keep thinking you’re going to die in the rip tide means you’re going to die.
If you’d like more insight, listen to me break it down in my podcast below.