I’m not going to lie, the past few months of ministry has been a rough one. I think it has a little to do with pride on my end, a little bit of feeling tired and worn out, and a little bit of the enemy feeding off both of those things. Taking over a ministry and beginning from scratch with a new vision and new leaders can take a toll on anyone. Then all of the sudden, the Lord reminds you of why you do what you do. We have had such a great year of growth (in all aspects of ministry and spiritually) and the Lord reminded me of a few things as I have been reflecting on this last school year and I wanted to share them with you:
Conversation and relationships happen, but great ones are intentional – I was talking to some leaders and they were telling me that they were hanging out with a group of students and they were having a good time. Conversations where happening and the group of students were doing what any group in a car would be doing. Then, the leader said she asked one question, one intentional question about this weeks sermon and the whole car changed. She said that one question opened up a car full of meaningful and deep discussion about Jesus and lead to a student confessing something to the group they have not told anyone. She said they were able to pray for them and that group of students and that leader has never been closer. Conversations and relationships will happen if you are consistant, but great conversations and relationships will happen when you are intentional.
Set the bar high and students will rise to it – This year we launched small groups. Our entire church has used ROOTEDas a starting point for small groups and curriculum and our student ministry jumped in on it as well. There is a student version of it but looking through it all our team decided our students would be able to do the adult one. With it, there are 5 days of “homework” (devotionals), a 3 hour prayer experience, a serving experience, evangelism experience and meeting weekly to talk about it all. We wrestled with the fact that students would actually do all that. We decided if we rose the bar, they can rise to it. Boy, did they and it was awesome to watch. I think sometimes we can fall into the trap that students “won’t be able to” or “they wouldn’t do it.” Obviously groups are different but I was reminded when we raise the bar, students can, are able to reach whatever goal you set in front of them. I was reminded that we should be teaching where we want students to be, not where they currently are. Keep the bar at the same level, they will stay there. Challenge them to step up and they will.
When leaders know and have fun with each other, they know and have fun with students – I’m a firm believer that if your volunteer team has fun together, it will bleed into your ministry. Most of the time on our Wednesday services, leaders see each other every week but they are there to serve students so they are interacting with students more than with each other (sometimes they hang with each other more but we try to break up leader circles) but our team is intentional with making sure we laugh, share meals, share stories with each other. Yes we have what we call “Leader Hang & Train” where we get together, but it needs to go beyond that. At our summer kick off, we had all these big inflatbables and after the event was over and the kids left and leaders where cleaning, we stopped and had a leader round of going through the obstacle course. We laughed, had fun for a bit and then went back to work but it was way more fun. I asked a newer student what they loved about Wednesday and they said, “I really enjoy how all the leaders seem like they actually love each other and laugh.” Music to my ears. Fun as leaders bleeds to the culture of your service.
God cares about your soul more than he cares about your attendance – If you go back and read my previous posts you will see I struggle with pride and people pleasing (anyone with me on that?). Does God care about the people showing up, however many, yes. Does He care for the leader and their heart? Big yes. I was in an unhealthy season and I cared about a lot of things that are important but are not most important. Looking back I realized why I was so tired and exhausted, and it’s not like I have not experienced this before in ministry, but I was able to pinpoint why in this season I was. I realized my own quiet times were more “distracted times.” My intentional alone time had turned into “intentional phone time”. My prayer life was turned into “watching Netflix” time. I was asking questions like, “How many where here tonight?” and then when it wasn’t what I wanted I would literally be upset when I went home despite great conversations that were being had. My heart was not in the right place. Something clicked for me when I heard this quote from Dallas Willard, “Hurry is a the great enemy of spiritual life in our day. You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.” I was running hard after things that were not as important and that God wants my heart more than youth group attendance. I needed a good gut check in the soul department and ask the question, “What is my ultimate love?” Him? Or more butts in seats like I was striving for. Healthy leader = healthy ministry.
These are just some thoughts as I have been looking back on my year. It’s crazy how good God is despite how not good I am in seasons.