Have you ever gone to a store excited to buy something? Maybe you’re looking for a new book to read or wanting a specialty drink from your favorite coffee shop. You approach the counter with confidence wearing a smile that’s a mile wide, but no one is present. You look around and notice an employee off to the corner staring at his phone like a drooling zombie. A few seconds go by and you aren’t sure what to do—he still hasn’t taken notice of you. So, you decide to make your presence subtly known by tapping a rhythmic beat on the counter. The employee comes to attention and approaches you with a lackluster expression, phone still in hand. The excitement on your face soon dissolves as you realize he is still finishing off a text. You try to appeal to the better side of his nature and smile at him before placing your order. This has no effect. You leave feeling frustrated, realizing that you just paid for a less than ideal experience.
Try This! ❯
Challenge your adult leaders to talk to a different student each week.
No one likes being treated poorly. Whenever you enter a store or pay for a service, you expect to be treated well. You don’t want to find yourself with someone who has no interest in you as a customer or in the job they’ve been hired to do.
In a similar way, your Gospel Advancing Ministry should emulate a deep-seated passion for the students and THE Cause of Christ. The teenagers in your ministry deserve leaders who are sold-out to youth ministry. But if you or your adult volunteers are like the inattentive guy behind the counter, then, maybe even without realizing it, you’re providing them with a less than ideal experience.
Here are three questions every leader needs to ask and answer in order to determine whether your heart’s in the right place for successfully shepherding your students.
1. Do you love Jesus?
First things first, do you and your adult volunteers love Jesus? This is the most important question that needs to be answered, because it is through Christ that all good things flow (James 1:17). Without Christ, youth ministry is at a complete standstill. Think of it this way: God is the author of love, peace, patience, kindness and joy, and without Him, none of these qualities would exist. A life lived with God produces the fullness of each quality. If anyone in the ministry isn’t in love with Jesus, then these qualities, which are often called the fruit of the Spirit, will not be exhibited in their purest form.
In some ways, this question is also asking if you believe in the power of the gospel. Paul, when writing to the Corinthian church said, “And if Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless” (1 Corinthians 15:14). Youth leaders need to be ignited by the truth of the gospel. A youth ministry marked by a lack of love for and belief in Christ and His message is destined to fail. Make sure you are surrounding your teenagers with leaders who are wholly convinced of the truth of Christianity.
2. Do you love me?
If you love Jesus, then you will love THE Cause that He has called His believers to. Students want you to care about Christianity, you are a Christian after all, but they also want you to care about them. There’s a disconnect when teenagers hear leaders talking about love and fellowship, yet personally feel unnoticed. Make sure that you are encouraging volunteers to be intentional about how they spend their time with the students.
Loving the teenagers in your ministry means figuring out ways to better serve them. Try setting goals for your adult leaders to improve their relationships with the youth. One way of doing this is by challenging the adults to talk to a different student each week. Remember, you always want to avoid the temptation of catching up with a fellow adult leader during youth ministry. Make sure hangouts with adults are reserved for before or after service times when teenagers aren’t around. This will help your teenagers experience love from the leadership team.Students want you to care about Christianity, but they also want you to care about them. Click To Tweet
3. Are you for real?
If there is anything worse than someone treating you poorly at a store, it’s when the employee doesn’t even buy into the product they are selling. No one likes going to a restaurant to order food when the waiter is appalled by everything on the menu. Similarly, if teenagers think you or your adult leaders don’t really live out your Christian convictions, then they won’t care about the hypocritical lip service your giving to Christian belief.
Teenagers want to know if you actually buy into Christianity and that you are living an authentic life. Make it a point to communicate the need for authenticity within your leadership. Sometimes leaders can be timid about sharing their own life experiences and struggles. They may think that all of the talking should be left to the youth pastor, but their best contribution is visibly modeling and articulating their personal faith journey. When students see the leadership in agreement over the Christian faith and living out authentic lives, then the gospel becomes contagious. Teenagers will start to ask questions because the faith they see modeled will be very different from the secular world teenagers find themselves in. One way to promote authenticity is by integrating THE Cause Circle within your youth ministry. This will give time each week for students and leaders to talk about how they are praying, pursuing and persuading their friends. (If you need help getting your adults to see the value of a Gospel Advancing Ministry, then check out 4 Steps Toward Adult Buy-In or listen in on the free Dare 2 Share podcast “How to Train Your Small Group Leaders.”)
So ask and answer these questions personally, and get your adult leaders to do the same. We all need to reassess from time to time whether our ministry efforts are flowing forth from these three core essentials—loving Jesus, loving students and living an authentic Christian life.
Want more practical advice on mobilizing your teens to share the gospel? All of our Mobilize stories offer great ideas for training your students and building a Gospel Advancing Ministry. Sign up here to receive this free, hands-on, weekly resource in your inbox!