The Goal of Youth Ministry
Probably the most important hurdle that teenagers have to cross is how to negotiate their increasingly splintered lives. Everywhere people are clamoring for their attention and their time. It can be friends, sports, social media, musical groups, just about any group in our results oriented culture. The benefits we enjoy from a specialized society also put more and more pressure on our youth to quickly identify what makes them unique, and how they can stand out in an increasingly diverse crowd. The great question every teenager will ask is “who will notice me?” Sometimes it becomes difficult to imagine that even God will notice them.
But in the middle of this, students in the Church are open to an amazing opportunity. They can form a group, centered around Jesus’ message and example, where everyone can meet from differing backgrounds. Paul gives a compelling description of the group in 1 Corinthians 1:26-30, pointing out that God doesn’t pick only the influential, or the “strategic” people. He picks out the lowly, those who wouldn’t otherwise be noticed. In a competitive culture how important is it to hear that you are noticed because you are lowly!
So this past month as we talked about our place in the group and the Kingdom on our annual high school Spring Retreat. I was so encouraged to hear our students talk about how much this group meant to them. We have students from a number of different backgrounds, and while it isn’t always easy, it’s clear that they care about each other. That kind of care comes from the Spirit, and that’s the goal of youth ministry. When your students are ministering to each other, then Jesus is being proclaimed not just when I preach, but whenever our students reach out with Jesus’ love!