Adolescents have to work really hard in their education to build a foundation of knowledge, character, and experience. Parents have the hindsight to understand just how important a Middle School and High School education is, so we can serve the pre-teens and teenagers in our lives with a compelling vision for the “why” behind all of the hard work.
The more I work with adolescents and raise a few of my own, I realize that adolescents and adults are not that different from one another. In particular, we both desperately need to be reminded of the “why” behind what we do. We can all get bored, distracted, or even depressed for lack of vision (Proverbs 29:18). But when we are inspired by vision, we tend to get back that enthusiasm God created us to have and we press forward with hope and purpose for our future. Here’s how…
Parents (and grandparents) are an absolutely vital part of your student ministry. This is true of middle school, high school, and in some ways even college ministry. Regardless of their faith, whether Believers or non-believers, parents of teenagers are still the primary gatekeepers for their kid’s involvement in your student ministry. And even parents of college students, who may not really be a “gatekeeper” any longer, can still be a catalytic advocate for your ministry.
In the grand scheme of things, your relationships with parents may be just as important as your relationship with students. Parents enhance your student ministry by giving you ideas, feedback, resources, and prayer. Your whole ministry will benefit from parents who are appropriately involved as advocates, especially among other parents.
The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. -Matthew 9:37-38
Some people are called to full time vocational ministry. If you have an insatiable draw toward missions or ministry that you just can’t shake, then maybe God is calling you. There will always be a need for cross-cultural missions until Jesus comes back. Missions is temporary. When Christ returns, there will be no more missions, that window will be closed. Yet right now it is wide open. There is a famine for the Word of God on every continent, and the Holy Spirit is raising up men, women, and young people from just about every nation to lay their lives down for Jesus to advance the Good News. And some of those whom he calls will be sent out as full time workers for his Kingdom.
Confucius is one of China’s most revered sages. Although he lived and taught his disciples somewhere around 551-479 B.C., Confucianism is still the most popular philosophy in China today. The context of Confucius’ rise in popularity is interesting. Times were chaotic and quite violent in China at the time of his professional life. There were great divides between classes and clans and this was disturbing to Confucius because it weakened society and created distrust and poverty. He grew up with minimal personal family connection so this seemed to create a vacuum in his own heart for connectedness and the benefits of a tight-knit family. Understanding his background helps us understand where the deep roots of his philosophy came from.
Those that fail to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it. – Winston Churchill
It is a common tendency to look back at the good old days with nostalgia, thinking “those people really had it right.” I actually think this is better than looking back with condescending criticalness of people or eras that we don’t fully understand. But there is also value, if handled gracefully, to look back at the good old days and see where people may have gone off course. We don’t do this to blame or put ourselves above them, on the contrary, we need to be honest with the past mainly because we are more like them today than we are different from them. We look back with a wondering eye not out of pride, saying “look how much smarter we are,” but instead we look back saying, “I know that I/we are more like people of antiquity than we are different from them, so maybe I can learn something from where they missed the mark or veered off course.”
Human nature will not change. In any future great national trial, compared with the men of this, we shall have as weak and as strong, as silly and as wise, as bad and as good. Let us therefore study the incidents in this as philosophy to learn wisdom from and none of them as wrongs to be avenged. – Abraham Lincoln
Student ministry in Asia
In my recent post, 12 Steps to Making You a Better Speaker or Teacher, I provide a simple pathway for how to develop a student ministry talk that will connect with your audience and communicate the Gospel in a language that they can understand. When you speak to a group of college, high school, or middle school students, you want to get them excited about Jesus and curious about how the Bible will radically impact their life. You want them to see how they can turn the world upside down by following Jesus. This is our goal, but it also takes some work to grow in your speaking skills.
Felix speaking in the Philippines
GREAT TEAMS KNOW HOW TO ASSIMILATE NEW TEAM MEMBERS
After reading, would you be willing to share this and offer a comment below? I respond to each comment.
Each semester it is common for a student ministry team to add a new leader or two. It is rare for teams to remain static for too long and it is actually a sign of health in your recruitment and training strategy if you are regularly adding new leaders on your youth ministry or college ministry team. God is constantly at work raising up new laborers for his harvest field so it is really important to have a plan for assimilating new leaders on your team:
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.’ – Matthew 9:36-38).
All of us have been “new” to a team at some point so it should be easy for us to relate. But in reality it takes discipline to keep reminding yourself how others might be feeling like an outsider. It is helpful to step back and put yourself in a new team members shoes. This greatly improves your ability to help them assimilate to your team.
What Does the Bible Teach about God’s Design for a Plurality of Eldership to Lead the Local Church?
Imagine a group of men of various personalties, ethnicities, and spiritual gifts seeking to lead alongside one another within a relational context of mutual respect and godly commitment for the progress of the gospel in and through a given local church family. This is what the church in Antioch, Syria in the first century possessed, which God used to take His glorious gospel to the far reaches of their known world in the first century (Acts 13:1-3). It is still happening today. The church planting network I am a part of, Crossway Chapel, is committed to this kind of leadership that existed in Antioch.
Meeting with Elders of a Crossway Chapel in Asia
10 Great Questions to Get Your Small Group Talking
TIP: START YOUR SMALL GROUP MEETING WITH A GOOD QUESTION:
- What was your one of your highs and lows from this week?
- What is the something you did this week that you wish you could to do over again?
- When you have some free time, what kinds of things do you like to do?
- If you could change anything about when you were growing up as a kid, what would you change?
- If you could have any job you wanted in the future, what would it be? Why?
- When do you feel most alive or the most “yourself”?
- What is one of the hardest things about being a teenager?
- Can you remember when you first heard about Jesus? What did you think about Him?
- How might you describe your relationship with Jesus these days?
- What is something you really would like to change in your school? Your city?
Tip: If you lead a small group of middle school, high school, or college students I like using the small book, The Personality of Jesus: How to Introduce Young People to Jesus Christ and Help Them Grow in their Faith as a great study to discover Jesus. It has great discussion questions at the end of each short chapter too!
Student ministry is one of those vocations that sometimes perplexes people. I often get asked, “So what do you do?” I love it when people ask me that because it gives me a free 30 seconds or so to promote and advocate for what I believe is one of the most important ministry priorities for any church or para church. I want to see every young person in every city of the world have an opportunity to meet Jesus, grow in their faith, and to grow as a leader to impact more young people in their arena of influence.
I came to Christ as a high school kid through Young Life and then served for 15 years on staff with YL in Arizona, Colorado, and New Zealand.