I have been doing Crossfit for a month now. I love it. I have never been more sore in my life, never have done this much weight lifting and this much cardio ever in my existence but I cant get enough of it. There is just something about it that draws you in to want to go and almost throw up every single time. I started to think why I have been enjoying it and then I started to connect how student ministry can be tied into it. There are a few things I think us youth workers can learn from the Crossfit community and it will help us do what we do better.

Here are some things our youth ministries can learn from Crossfit:

Fantastic community and encouragement: Different workouts will bring different people to their knees in exhaustion. It is a great equalizer. From my first week until now the people in whom you work out with have a great sense of community and encouragement. People hang out before and after, but during it, it is one of the most encouraging atmospheres I have been a part of. It all stems from the coach that is there. No one cleans up or leaves until the last person is done. If you are the last one, you don’t feel bad or belittled but instead you are then surrounded by everyone else encouraging you to finish the work out saying, “Come on! You got this!” I know because I have been the last one plenty of times and there is nothing like it. It helps.

I’m not saying youth ministries don’t have great communities but what I have seen that it all begins with the coach. The person leading the workouts is the one who sets the tone for those who finish early and provides an atmosphere where others can rally behind each other to get things done. That is those of us who are leading ministries. Do you provide an atmosphere of community and encouragement? Are you leading out in this to your team and students?

People lean towards the positive: I don’t know about you, but sometimes I lean negative. Even in ministry with people I work with and people who volunteer for our ministry, I lean negative. I have yet met a negative person, even when I go at 6am and there is a class before me just getting out, people lean positive. Maybe its because they know everyone is about to do something that is going to suck but we get to do it together, so it just fosters the great community. Everyone wants to help each other win. Just today, a guy who I have talked to for 5 minutes every morning as I’m coming and he is leaving gave me some Crossfit shoes because he noticed I didn’t have the right ones. Just gave them to me, no questions asked. I was blown away. No one belittles, yells at, and gets annoyed with anyone while doing the work out. You just believe the best in them.

In your ministry, do you lean positive? Do the people around you lean positive and want to step up and help others, no questions asked? Even when it gets hard, do you keep a cool head and a safe environment for those who are in your ministry? “that kid” in your ministry, do you lean positive believe in the best in them or just annoyance? I know I need to work on leaning positive sometimes. I want to be known as a leader that through tough times I can keep a cool, calm, collected, always looking towards the good in people

When you go through tough things together, it brings you closer: I think this is one of the main reasons this is such a unique community. Everyone is coming to do the same work out. Everyone comes expecting it not to be easy. With the positive attitudes and uplifting atmosphere and the tough workouts, everyone is doing it together. There is something about facing hardships in a community that brings people closer together and creates the type of environment people crave. Real, authentic friendships built off going through the fire together. When you’re done everyone high fives, fist bumps and gives a “Good job, you killed it” after.

This goes with our ministries as well. When we walk through the toughest times with students and families, it brings you to a level of knowing each other in a way that was not there before. When we go into the fire of our student’s lives and work it through with them, the connection is made where the Holy Spirit can move in them in a way that was not there before.

It’s healthy competition: Everyone there is at a different level but no one has ego. Everyone does what they know they can do to push themselves to grow. Ego will only get your injured because you can’t do a certain weight. There is competition because everyone is doing the same work out for time but we know we are all in different areas a weight levels. Healthy competition pushes you but doesn’t divide you.

When it comes to ministry, healthy competition is good. That other church in your area is not competing, but you are doing the same thing. You both have the same goal. Some churches and ministries are bigger than others yes, and they have their won strengths and you have yours as well. Of course I want to do more weight, so I look to them to see how they do their technique and learn how they go so I can become better. Because I’m a smaller guy, I can do certain workouts better than the big guys. Same in ministry, we can all learn how to grow from some healthy competition. Healthy competition pushes you but doesn’t divide you. Egos will kill that. What would it look like if you went to “that church” across town and watched how they did things to learn who you can grow and get stronger? What would it look like if you didn’t compare but stayed faithful to what you have so your ministry can become stronger?

In youth ministry, everyone is doing the work out together. We are headed towards the same goals. Let’s build the communities we are in charge of to point them towards the One who can bring life.