2013 is here, the youth ministry is just getting started, and in the lull of Christmas I was able to take some time to reflect on the year so far. In my office I have a wall that has a photo of almost all the students that are involved in our ministry. Its been up for two years now, and every week someone, without fail, sticks their head into my office and says something to the effect of just how encouraging it must be to look at all those faces.
Confession: It’s sometimes discouraging.
Its tough because there are faces of students that were connected, that were growing, that were falling in love with Jesus and through any number of circumstances have walked away. There are so many awesome and connected students up there, but the ones that have left are hard to see and it never seems to get easier. Some days I regret putting the pictures up because it would be so much easier for those students to be names on piece of paper in the back drawer of my desk, not a face on my wall. I pray for them, pray that they would get connected at our group again or another youth group and find an adult that wants to pour into their lives.
Watching students walk away never gets easy and as Pastors, the loss is often greater than just the student, as there is a always family behind that student who might be just as devastated that their child has chosen to disconnect from Church. It has been a source of tension in the past in our ministry as parents sometimes want to blame the youth ministry for the disconnect and much like coach on a sports team, we often get too much credit when things are going well in a students life and too much blame when things go sideways.
My encouragement to you is that there will be those students for each of us but commit to praying for them, encouraging them if you happen to see them, and like the prodigal son’s father when his wayward son returns, run as fast as you can to welcome them home.
Geoff – Twitter geoffcstewart