How a youth worker reaches teens, families, etc. can be the center of attention in church much like a tightrope walker in the middle of a circus. Everyone is watching. This can be a good thing if our heart and passion is to reach kids for Christ and help them to follow Jesus. But, like the audience (the church) at the circus, some get their thrills from watching the tightrope walker get across to the other side and others want us to fall. The future of our youth ministry does not depend if we fall or not but rather that we took the risk at all to reach out to kids who need Jesus or get our hands dirty in discipleship of these kids who find Christ.
I’ll do my best to stay away from worn out church catch phrases like “winning the lost” and “soul winners”. These are the phrases I grew up with along with a few others that were supposed to crack the whip and get me moving. The problem with these evangelical catch phrases was that’s all they were, catch phrases. The programs and the calendar did not reflect the sentiment. Our heart for evangelism may be clear through the various game nights, lock in’s etc. but is our passion to see a kid walk in the steps of Jesus equally evident on our calendars as well as in our hearts?
A musician who receives a tremendous amount of attention, from his loyal group of fans the Bobcats, is Bob Dylan. In fact, the people who who dive deep into all things Dylan are called Dylanoligists. These folks want to know the background behind the songs, who’s singing back up, what is this song about and where was Bob when he wrote it. And those are just for starters. A.J. Weberman, who coined the phrase, was known to go great lengths to find out about Bob,
“used to notoriously sneak around in the alleys behind Dylan’s apartments, rummaging through his garbage in the night, searching for shards of song sheets and clues to the mysteries if his music.”
I want to dig around in the back alleys of the Bible’s with a bunch of kids to see what we can find our about Jesus, God, walking by faith, and living with purpose.
I love to share Jesus with other people like I like sharing my favorite new album or artist. I want to say “Did you hear about…?”. That’s evangelism. Andrew went to Pater and said, “Come, I found the Messiah” and invited his brother on a journey of a life time. It was a natural relationship not a force entry into a strangers home.
Discipleship is like taking your same favorite record (Like Dylan) and talking deeper about the individual tracks saying things like “Did you hear that bass line on track 5?” or “What do you think he/she meant when they said…” . This is discipleship. It’s digging deeper into the big picture to pull out all the nuances of faith. Jesus asked his disciples many questions, one of which was “Who do men say I am?”, which could be a line from a Dylan song, and Peter said, “You are the Christ, the son of the living God. Discipleship is about getting kids to dig a little deeper into the dumpster of faith. It will get messy but oh the treasure you will find.
In the end it come down to our heart and passion to not only reach kids but to disciple kids in their new-found faith. Evangelism won’t happen without a fire inside and discipleship can’t happen without intentionality. The future of many a youth ministry, who thought they could get by with just one or the other, was determined by the heart of the youth worker.
What does your outreach strategy look like?
How are you leading kids to be stronger followers of Jesus? Small groups? One on one?