I got a question about the megachurch ministry from a youth worker who was really struggling with it. I wrote my response a few weeks ago, then thought today it may be helpful for others:
Well … I’ve experienced this on both sides – as a youth pastor at the little church down the street and as the mega church youth pastor with the big draw. I think both are important to God’s kingdom, but also feel that tension in your heart. Argh.
Here’s what I would suggest:
First off, pray for that big church that is “stealing” your students. Nothing will help your heart more than asking God to bless them. It’ll sting at first, maybe it will feel counterintuitive, but I promise you it will change you – and hey you can play a role and take partial credit if they grow too. Hahahaha! I promise you that youth worker isn’t thinking about your ministry or is intentionally trying to steal sheep, I’d bet you money they’re holding on for dear life and dealing with all sorts of politics and numbers pressure trying to live out their calling.
I would also think about what is your unique advantage in regards to other churches. God uses all kinds of youth groups to reach all kinds of teenagers. What are you and your ministry called to be? So you don’t have smoke and lasers and a pulsing sound system – what do you have that they don’t? I’d propose the thought that you have real relationships in spades. Something a big church has to fight to find. You may have to fight to create energy and momentum, but you love people and people stick. Maybe you have a great discipleship program that a large church could never have the capacity to pull off. What do you have?
Big picture principle I’ve seen played out again and again:
Students will show up for a program, but they’ll stick where there are relationships.
So pray first, then find your unique ministry calling/voice/space. God will use both of these ministries to draw students to Him.
Hang in there,