Every weekday morning (okay – almost every), I head to the gym to do a little of that crazy thing called exercise. Today was no different. I woke up, ate breakfast, took my daughters to school and then headed to the gym. Parked in my usual spot. Walked into the gym and proceeded to scan my card. Here’s where it gets a bit interesting – the display on the card reader was reading “invalid card”. Thinking the scanner misread my card I scanned it again and I got the same response from the card reader. A few thoughts started to pop into my head, “did I pay my membership?”, “have I been kicked out of the gym?”, and the ever popular “3rd time’s a charm – scan it again!” – so I did. Same response – “invalid card”! Then I noticed the reason…I was scanning a supermarket key tag instead of my gym key tag…oops!

This little lesson this morning reminded me that we can be doing all the right things and not getting the results we expect because we’re using the wrong tools. So often in ministry we fight hard to build a ministry or even a great program so students will want to come to our church and/or programs. Once they’re there we’ll talk to them about what God has done and how awesome Jesus is – hoping they come back.

That’s totally different to the way Jesus did ministry. Jesus went to the people and talked with them not to them. When He met with people, He helped them experience the love and grace of God. John 1:14 says, “The Word became flesh and moved into the neighborhood.” (The Message) NOT “The Word became flesh and waited for everyone to come see Him”. If we put our energies into “us going” instead of “them coming” we just might get the opportunity to show more students the love of Jesus.

Maybe during the weekend take a cooler full of ice and water and some of your youth group to the park to give water to the kids playing basketball. Head to the high school with a few pizzas and invite students to join you for lunch

Doing little things like this show them that you are willing to “move into their neighborhoods” and live life with them. You never know what a simple act of love will do to someone – they just may meet that Jesus you keep talking about!

Nate Eckert is the youth pastor at Flora United Methodist Church in Flora, IN.