Post by Brett Eddy
“I just want to make a difference in teenagers’ lives!”
We’ve all said it. It’s why we got into student ministry in the first place. I know I said it. When I was 22 years old and a middle school teacher, I was invited by a friend to serve in our church’s student ministry. After resisting for a couple of weeks, I decided (after being repeatedly begged to serve) to give it a try, and I was hooked … to the point that a few months later, all I wanted to do was drop what I was doing and work at the church full time in student ministry.
Because I came alive when I was with the students. I was influential in their lives. I was being used to make a huge difference (and not just teach them what a “pronoun” is). And I was having a blast!
And a year later, I was on staff. At that church. Co-directing the student ministry.
Then I went through the shift that most of us have had to go though: from working with students to primarily working with adults. Because when your ministry grows, you simply CANNOT effectively reach or pour into every student who walks through your doors. We’ve all learned, more painfully for some than others, that effective student ministry requires you to multiply yourself through your adult volunteers.
And while it was painful at first to see our leaders having moments of success in leading students (because, hey, I’m the paid professional here), I knew that we were having so much more success as a ministry in helping our students walk with God when I spent time training, pouring into, and equipping our adult leaders to be the pastors of the students in their small groups.
So for the last decade plus, I’ve poured most of my attention into the adults in our ministry (both volunteer and staff). I’ve found myself increasingly spending time thinking about and influencing the adults who help our ministry care for the students and families in our church. Yes, I’ve led small groups and LOVE to connect with students briefly at our weekly events and at camps/activities/retreats, but most of my time has been with our adults.
Here’s the problem: it’s really easy to shift from students to adults (which is necessary for any student ministry that is larger than 12 kids – even Jesus limited Himself to 12), but what’s not always easy is staying in touch with students and making sure that I spend adequate time just being with the people that our ministry is trying to reach.
It’s easy to get bogged down by the time it takes to make ministry happen (leading leaders, preparing lessons, finding receipts – doh, setting up chairs, reviewing budgets, answering angry parent emails, cleaning up the room, setting up chairs, planning the receipt, becoming peanut-free, setting up chairs…).
You get the picture…
And then realize you’re spending very little IF ANY time with students.
So my suggestion to myself (and to you if you relate to any of this) is to intentionally find ways to BE WITH STUDENTS!!!
Lead a small group.
Oversee student leadership.
Go to lunch at a school.
Go to an athletic event or school function.
Plan a trip to the movies with a couple of key students.
Lead a Bible study at a coffee shop near the high school.
You’re creative and can figure out how to best do this for yourself, but remember that even though your job as a student pastor is certainly to equip the saints to do the work of the ministry…
Don’t forget why you started to do this in the first place…spend time with students!!!
Brett Eddy is the Student Pastor at Port City Community Church in Wilmington, NC and has been serving there for more almost 15 years. He loves pouring into volunteers and staff, casting vision for the ministry, and communicating with students on stage. He and his wife, Corina, have 3 kids and love living in the coastal Carolinas!