Building a youth ministry that aligns with Jesus’ heart can be a dangerous, risky undertaking.
Why? Because, like Jesus, you are opening the door to sacrifice, criticism, rejection and the messiness of dealing with “the broken.”
But consider Jesus’ words in Matthew 9:10-13:
While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
When you actively pursue an outreach-focus in your youth ministry, you are taking risks because you are…
-inviting all sorts of teenagers into your ministry.
-getting yourself and your believing teens into the “gritty” streets where Jesus walked and ministered.
-extending open arms to the broken, the bullied and the bad.
Daniel’s Keys to Successful Leadership
In the past few energize articles we’ve explored Leadership the Daniel Way and sought to apply some of Daniel’s keys to successful leadership to the context of youth ministry. So far, we’ve looked at:
- Conviction – WHY you do what you do
- Character – WHO you are when nobody is looking
- Competence – HOW well you do what you do
While each of these three keys are essential for great leadership, it also takes Courage to step up to the risks that come with radical, revolutionary, transformative ministry in the real world of your week-in-and-week-out responsibilities. Courage is a MUST when the proverbial rubber meets the road.
Risk Is at the Core of Courage, Faith Is at the Core Risk
Daniel was one courageous dude—as were his three friends, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Shad, Mesh and A-bed unflinchingly risked death in a fiery furnace in Daniel 3:17-18: “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”And we all remember the inspiring story of Daniel risking death in the lions’ den.
What brought these men of God through such tough, challenging times? Faith that God was large and in charge. Courage is fear that says its prayers, and charges ahead anyway.
At our Dare 2 Share (D2S) office in Colorado, we have a quote prominently displayed on our entrance wall. It greets us every day as we come in to work. “Attempt something so great for God, it’s doomed to failure unless God be in it.” —John Haggai.
Are you attempting something so great for God in your ministry that it’s doomed to failure unless God be in it? I encourage you to grow your faith, trust that God is large and in charge, take a risk and do exactly that!
Assessing Your Mental Roadblocks
There are several prevailing attitudes in youth ministry that can get in the way of aligning your youth ministry with Jesus’ heart for seeking and saving the lost. This week, take a look at the list below and identify the ones you are most likely to use as an excuse for pulling back from making evangelism a priority in your ministry. Courageously, prayerfully, faithfully, face them down. Ask God to step into your biases and weaknesses and bring His power and wisdom.
- “Teenagers must get healed emotionally before they can heal others spiritually.”
- “My teenagers must be spiritually mature BEFORE they can effectively evangelize.”
- “We must get all the teens on the bus first before we start driving toward spiritual maturity and evangelistic outreach.”
- “I can’t do much if a teenager’s parents aren’t on board with their kids sharing their faith.”
- “I share Jesus with my life, not my lips.”
What are you willing to risk to lead THE Cause of making disciples who make disciples in your youth group? You can delegate games, worship and teaching, but you can’t delegate the responsibility for keeping Christ’s cause central to your youth ministry.