Monday, November 7, 2011

"4 Reasons Why Youth Ministry is Not a Stepping Stone" by Russell St. Bernard

Do you know youth ministry leaders that use youth ministry as a personal stepping stone?
I have been in youth ministry for several years now and one of the issues I have with some youth ministry leaders, is their thought that youth ministry is the place where they grow their gifts and talents in order to do “real” ministry and work with the adults.  Now I have no problem when someone feels the call from God to move out of youth ministry and minister to the adults of the Church, but when he/she plans to be with the students only to get enough experience and exposure so they can work with the adults, I have a problem.  To me it’s like going to get your car fixed and the person fixing your car says that they are pretty good but only working on your type of cars until they get good enough to work on more expensive cars.  None of us would be comfortable leaving our cars with a person like this because our cars are valuable to us; how much more valuable are the lives of the students we serve in youth ministry?
Here are 4 reasons why youth ministry is not a stepping stone:
  • It’s a stage of preparation – In youth ministry as leaders we are a part of the training and preparation stage for the students.  God has specifically put us where we are in order to help train and develop the students to grow and progress as Christians.  If we look at this role as a stepping stone, we won’t be doing our part to help prepare the students for what they are supposed to do now and for where God wants to take them.
  • It’s a part of our purpose – Everything has a purpose or a main function, you can use a chair to rest yourself or to stand on to reach an object out of reach.  However, if you need the chair but it’s in some other room or not around, it is not being used for the purpose for which it was designed.  As youth ministry leaders, serving students is part of our purpose and the reason God created us, but if we move from that purpose, we are like the chair that someone is looking for because they need us, but can’t find us.
  • It’s a partnership with the parents – A while back I wrote a post called “The Missing Piece” talking about how parents are very essential in the growth and development of youth ministry; without the parents we are less effective, because we are supposed to do ministry with the parents.  In the same way if we as youth ministry leaders leave our role then we leave the parents by themselves and like an other partnership it makes the task or job much harder when the partner leaves.
  • It’s a process – I remember when my grandfather used to make us food and he would prepare it outside of the oven and then when it was ready he would put it in the oven.  I used to always want to look at the food in the oven because it smelled so good, but every time I opened the oven I let some heat out and as a result I slowed the process.   As youth leaders God has us in a process as well, the longer we stay in the oven (youth ministry) the better we get and the more we grow because the oven and the preparation are all a part of our process.  I know that I am a better youth ministry leader today than I was when I started because the process has grown me.
God has called each of us to a certain place and some for seasons,  for many of us this calling is what God wants us to do, but we get enticed by what others say about our gifts, what adult ministry looks like from the outside, and by just being frustrated with youth ministry at the present time.  These are all valid issues in their own right but youth ministry is a calling and not a stepping stone.
Questions: Do you know youth ministry leaders that use youth ministry as a stepping stone? What other reasons would you list to suggest that youth ministry is not a stepping stone