There is nothing comfortable about real discipleship. It is the role of the the youth pastor, you, to create discomfort in your youth ministry all the while being hospitable. The evangelist Billy Graham used to say of his preaching, “I have come to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted.” I believe the youth pastor should be building discomfort into their youth ministries and not just though preaching.
Discomfort is not just for students it’s for youth pastors as well. Youth Pastor, you may think you’re choosing discomfort by speaking on hard subject or spitting fire about low hanging fruit, I would say you have not given up the thing that makes you most comfortable, the meeting itself.
If you’re reading this, and have gone through the pandemic of 2020 as a youth worker, you know what it’s like to not have a normal meeting, I would ask you a few questions,
“What did discipleship in your youth ministry look like without a meeting?”
“Do you think you relied too much on the meeting to do life-changing discipleship?”
“Did you over value your meeting as the primary way to disciple students?”
I would argue that standard youth meetings do not make disciples. Discomfort makes disciples.
Meetings certainly are a starting point but the comfort they create can lull you into a false sense of change.
The metrics of a meeting become
“How many did we have?”
“Did students have fun?”
“Was everyone happy?”
In other words, “Was everyone comfortable?”
Maybe you’ve come to believe that educating students about what the bible says is discipleship but, Seth Godin and I and Jesus, would disagree. We believe that education is the opposite learning. In his book, The Practice, which I’ll quote a few times in this post, Seth says,
“art does not seek to create comfort but create change. And change requires tension. True learning (as opposed to education) is a voluntary experience that requires tension and discomfort (the persistent feeling of incompetence as we get better at a skill)
Jesus created uncomfortable moment after uncomfortable moment so His disciples would learn what it meant to trust him.
“You feed he people”
“Go to the other side”
““Let us go back to Judea.”
Most youth meetings, mine included, were great at educating students but not great at students learning what it meant to follow Jesus. There wasn’t a learning component where kids got to fail and be uncomfortable at doing the Jesus stuff I was talking about. That was until I took away the meeting.
After much prayer and preparation, training and trial, I decided to cancel our traditional youth meetings for three months. This became the namesake of this website, The Disciple Project. I took three months of a year and created discomfort. Yes, kids bailed. Yes, some kids did not like it. But, the discomfort of taking away the meeting to
- visit kids who did not come to church that night
- visit and pray with the widows and elderly in our church
- create small groups of skill building around prayer, shari ng your faith and how to create graphics for an upcoming outreach that students designed
was worth every missed traditional meeting and every moment of discomfort because I believe doing is greater than sitting. Doing the gospel, putting to work the principles of scripture was of more value than what I had to say about the scripture for 20 minutes.
Discomfort is the feeling we get right before change happen
You’ve gone through a season of discomfort, now build discomfort into your youth ministry a few times a year to help your students learn that theirs more to following Jesus than showing up to a meeting.
My hope is that the discomfort of the pandemic, concerning your youth meetings, will bring a similar discomfort about how disciples are made going forward.
Take a look at my Disciple Project Ministries Outreach Manual and see if it’s the kind of discomfort your youth ministry needs.