Even if you hate math, there’s something comforting about a formula—about the fact the 2 + 2 = 4 or e = mc2 (whatever that actually means). Whether we understand the formula or not, we can plug in the numbers and get the right answer.
If only youth ministry were that easy.
Instead of numbers, it involves people, which are much less predictable (and every one of us is a sinner, to boot!). That means that even when we do all the right things—following all the best practices to implement a Gospel Advancing approach to youth ministry—the results sometimes fall flat.
I’ve been there. You’ve been there. Maybe you’re there now.
If so, I encourage you to not give up. Instead, as Paul exhorts us in Galatians 6:9:
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
I caught a glimpse of this payoff this past fall. During the outreach portion of Dare 2 Share LIVE, our youth group split into smaller groups and went door-to-door, collecting canned goods, praying for people, and sharing the Gospel. One of our students emerged as a leader, boldly engaging with people at nearly every home and employing creative methods (ahem, bribery) to challenge more timid team members to do the same.
What’s especially significant about this is that during the previous year’s Dare 2 Share LIVE outreach, this student—a natural introvert—had refused to say a single word or engage with anyone, despite other team members nudging him to do so.
What was also encouraging is that this student wasn’t the only one who showed growth and boldness—several others also stepped up and took risks that they weren’t willing to take the year before.
I attribute these changes, first and foremost, of course, to the Holy Spirit, but secondly to an ongoing, consistent emphasis on the Gospel—and Gospel Advancing—in our youth group.
It reminds of a quote that struck me many years ago, when I read (nerd alert!) George Eliot’s Silas Marner. It goes like this:
There have been many circulations of the sap before we detect the smallest sign of the bud.
My challenge to you is to keep on circulating that Gospel sap—and always keep your eyes peeled for the bud!