I know you know who I am talking about when I say, “That kid” in your youth ministry. Am I right? They come but you sort of don’t know why. They sit in the back, on their phone and seem to not pay attention. You are usually surrounded by the students who come all the time because they actually engage in conversation so you sped most of your time with them, not really paying attention to “That kid” who doesn’t seem to want to be there anyways. I used to (and still sometimes catch myself) do this all of the time. But I read this story about Jesus and it convicted me so I have been trying to make it a point to reach out to “that kid” because they need Jesus just as much as I do.
You know the story of Zacchaeus. The regions tax collector and was hated among the people. He was on the outside, not in the “in crowd”, not in the religious know. People knew he was there but did not engage him in conversation. Yet, he was still there and people didn’t know why. He just wanted to see Jesus. He was short so he climbed a tree to see Jesus. What Jesus did next is a lesson we all can learn in youth ministry about those kids who are “that kid” in the back and how to react to them:
Notice them.- 5 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately.
- Jesus interacted with them. He was surrounded by a huge crowd yet he took the time to stop and engage in a conversation with him. He need to do the same. Trust me, I know its way easier to talk to the students you already have a relationship with. But if we are to follow Jesus and how he interacted with the fringe people, we need to be intentional with knowing them.
Get to know them. –I must stay at your house today.” 6 So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.
- Maybe they are “that kid” because simply because you don’t know them. Jesus invited himself over to his house. Zacchaeus didn’t seem to mind. He seemed a little shocked and welcomed it greatly. I would imagine that every kid who just seems to come to come and not be involved wouldn’t mind being invited to Chick-fil-a or Starbucks after service if you are buying simply because you want to get to know them better.
Others have ignored them and might not get their “normal time” with you. –7 All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”
- The Pharisees were a little upset Jesus chose to hang out with a “sinner” rather than them. I would think some of your regulars might be mad if you have a tradition after services and you interrupted it to hang out with a new student. I would encourage them to invite “that kid” to come with. How will our students know how to reach out to new people if we as their leaders are not showing them how it’s done?
Change happens because you show them Jesus. – 8 But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
- We don’t know the conversation Jesus had with Zacchaeus to make him change his heart. We just know Jesus spent time with him and he was changed. I know when we reach out to students we are showing them the same love as Jesus would have shown them. I know we can’t change people, only Jesus can, but when we spend time with students like Jesus spent time with people, they see Jesus, they want to know more of Jesus and they keep wanting to come to your service to learn about Him. Life change happens this way. It’s what Jesus does. It’s what I want to be addicted too.