The single most common issue I hear from student ministry leaders is about the busy lives and schedules of students. It almost makes people give up. It’s hard and there are no easy answers.
Other issues include culture, eroding family values, less overall connection to the church, and church folk who seem apathetic. Add to this the time pressures of daily life. Balancing ministry – full-time, part-time or volunteer with home life, work, and relationships. I know firsthand how wearing so many hats in ministry can make a person weary.
If you’re still reading past those first two depressing paragraphs, here’s the good news. Though student ministry may be hard, it’s not difficult. There are really just two or three simple ingredients.
Here are some definitions of student ministry.
- Participating with God’s work in the life of another human being.
- An adult who loves Jesus and loves students.
- Helping to birth a student into adulthood.
- The purpose of student ministry is to help students develop into fully mature disciples of Jesus.
- Youth groups are designed to help students find their place in the church.
The bottom line is that student ministry, at it’s core, is about walking with students as they journey through life. Because each of us is uniquely gifted and connect at different levels this can happen in numerous ways.
It’s easy to grasp. Student ministry is about paying attention to some individuals from the next generation. Be excited to see them, ask questions, listen, learn and love them.
Student Ministry may be hard work, but it’s not difficult. Here are some of the simple things you can do today:
- Text some students a scripture verse and let them know you are praying for them.
- Set up a prayer chart for the students in your church. Pray for each one by name for a month.
- Go out for pizza the next day they are off from school.
- Show up for a game or event.
- Encourage them through social media.
- Take a risk, and ask a tough question – help hold them accountable.
- Serve as a volunteer during a weekly ministry program.
- Meet with them weekly – to help support the ministry to students through the church.
Most anyone can do these things. It’s not difficult.
Try to remember what is was like going through middle school and high school. Get some concrete memories. Then try to respond to students through God’s word at work in you, the way you would have liked someone to respond to you back then. Students want to be noticed, nurtured and loved. I once heard that students will gravitate toward the oldest person who will take them seriously.
Help them see Jesus through your words, your actions and your life. When they get older, they won’t necessarily recall lessons, quotes and scriptures, but they will recall your life, actions and faithfulness. And they will seek to model their lives after yours.
In a sense, every Christian believer is in “student ministry.” We are all called to teach the next generation. For those leading specific ministries to students, it may be hard to find ways to incorporate other adults into your team, but keep trying! Ask, inspire, connect and provide a framework for them to participate. It may be the most important role you play.
Student ministry is hard – but it’s not difficult. It’s simple really. Pray that God would give you a heart for the basics today. Love teens into the Kingdom.
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Students, Phones and Church: Five Reflections For Youth Workers
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44 Things Youth Workers Might Delegate