I know boring and youth ministry should not be in the same sentence but it was necessary. I think the perception for many years has been that the leader of a vibrant, growing, youth ministry has to be young, attractive, and talented. I am none of those things and it’s possible that many of you are not either. Good news, you don’t have to be. You can be boring like me and watch God grow your ministry.
Our youth ministry has grown over the past few years. If you’re a youth pastor of a smaller youth group, 15 and under, please understand I don’t write this to brag or to make you feel bad about your situation. I hope this boring bit of introspection about me and our youth ministry will show show you that I am incredibly average and confirm that God loves to show himself through average people.
Here are the stats on my youth ministry
I have been at this church going into my 5th year.
It’s a small to moderate church, around 250 weekly.
We are Pentecostal.
We are semi-rural. The town is a small bedroom community one high school, a couple of stop lights, a strip mall, a grocery store and a Jacks.
Worship band? Yes.
Decent facilities? Yes.
Stats about me:
I am not a young hipster, I’m 46 years old.
I do not play the guitar (or any instrument for that matter)
I do not rap.
I do not follow or model myself after trendy preachers.
I do not dress cool. (ask my kids)
So, see, no advantage in the looks or talent category.
I share this because so many times we think that someone has the leg up on us because of church size or demographics (big city, suburbs, mega church, etc). I am average in just about every skill except maybe preaching. I work hard on that and relationship building.
Now, with that out of the way, here’s five boring principles, I think, have contributed to our growth from 15-20 (post tornado that blew away our church) four years ago, to now having between 45- 55 weekly. And it’s boring stuff. It’s based on principles not on the latest programs.
1. We are committed to excellence.
I know, you thought I was going to say prayer right. Well, prayer and God’s grace are certainly a part of it but if I pray and don’t create something worth coming to, my prayers are null and void. I have to do my part. My prayer isn’t for more kids, my prayer is to disciple the kids God gives me and let them reach their friends for Christ. Our programs have value, fun, purpose, and combined, create a strategy for growth.
2. We emphasize a lifestyle of outreach and evangelism.
We get what we preach. Once a month we have an outreach of some kind. It could be something small like The Maze Runner or big like having a guy jumping over motorcycles., but outreach is not a program to us. Outreach is an opportunity for our kids to connect with and invite their friends to something they believe will reach their friends for Christ. It’s not about the event, it’s about the lifestyle.
3, We do relational things well
We do follow up and connect with kids in service. We understand that we only have some of these kids for 90 minutes a week so we make the most if it. Before service I try to get around to as many different kids as possible to just touch base, introduce myself, or have a laugh with kids who regulars. I take a pre-service selfie with one or two. I’m not in hurry, If I start 5 minutes late, so what. We also have small groups once a month where kids can connect with students they don’t know and have discussion about the topic of the night. These small groups gives our leaders a chance to connect with kids because I can’t be everyone’s buddy and I am not everyone’s cup of tea. We need diversity.
4. We do things on purpose and with purpose
From programming elements to the worship songs there is not a lot of random things. We know families only have so much time and budget so we plan light and make the most of the opportunities we create. We look at the next three months, the church calendar, and where our kids are spiritually and plan accordingly with their needs in mind and what will propel their relationship with forward.
5. I preach and call kids to commitment
I gave up being afraid along time ago. I have been yelled at by parents, chewed out by pastors, and had kids quit on me all because I told the truth in love. I am not loud or arrogant when I preach but I get to the truth and ask a lot of questions just like Jesus did. I did this when we had 15 kids and I do this when we have 50 kids. The relational end of what we do makes up for the hard truth we preach. We invest like crazy so when the hard truth comes or their is a cal to the altar the kids know we are doing this out of love and not manipulation or coercion. We leave lots of room for the Holy Spirit to do His job.
See, boring. Crafting a philosophy of ministry and then doing it day in and day out is not super exciting but, along with prayer and God’s grace, we’ve seen the exciting fruit of these boring seeds.
What “boring” philosophy have you adopted and do week in and week out?
Has it produced fruit?
What “exciting” programs do you have that are not paying off the way you thought?