You thrive on life change. That’s what makes you a youth minister. When life is tough, all you need is that one story of a teen finding Christ. Living out the Gospel and showing you that all the pain, hurt and junk you’ve been through is worth it. As youth ministers it’s not always about the energy, the numbers or the accolades, it’s about connecting the teens to Christ.
But, is that what’s really happening in your ministry? Are you seeing stories of life change for Christ or something else? Stories of life change can happen for many reason. As youth ministers your hope is that they happen because of a personal and public relationship with Christ. That might be happening in your ministry, but then again you might be raising up the next generation of disciples of YOUR CHURCH or YOUR MINISTRY.
It’s a mistake that’s easy to make. It’s a trick the evil one plays on us all. He’ll make the ministry about you, about a program or even an activity. With those things and people comes hype, comes excitement and again life change. But, if the life change doesn’t point to Christ you are creating a group of disciples with shallow faith. That means a higher chance that your teens will walk away when they move away.
So, how do you know if you are pointing teens in the right direction? You can start by:
- Observing The Fruit: What path are former teens taking as they graduate high school? Are you finding teens becoming more public and aggressive with their faith? What you need to do is sit down with your team and determine what it looks like when a teen is truly living out his or her faith. This comes from creating a vision for your teens and coming up with signs that indicate you are fulfilling it.
- Getting Their Story: Have a teen write out their life story. How is God a part of it? Or is their life change due to people and programs? Help them see that God is writing their story and encourage them to give Him credit. Sometimes the reason you are creating disciples of your ministry is because of a misalignment, correct it before it goes bad.
- Ask Them Who They Want To Be: If you ask them “Who do you want to be?” you’ll see how their faith is influencing the vision they have for themselves. Are they describing someone who has been shaped by the world or someone who is being shaped by their faith? Again you can have a conversation with them that will help them see how God is shaping their future.
- Get An Outside Perspective: Talk to parents, coaches or teachers about the life journey they’ve seen in their students. Make sure you are connected in the community to determine the true impact your ministry is having on their growth. Are they only “Christian” inside your ministry or are they displaying Christ everywhere they go?
In the end each of your student has a decision whether or not they are going to follow Christ. You need to guide, influence and encourage them to focus on Christ. While you may never have a perfect success rate, you can increase Christ’ influence by pointing them towards Him.
How do you determine who a student is following?
Chris Wesley (@chrisrwesley)