Youth Ministry Essentials 5

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As I sit here writing I am wearing a shirt that was given to me by a close friend.  The text on the shirt says, “No Religion, Just a Relationship.”  relationshipI love this shirt.  Relationship is what I am all about.  Connecting in relationship with God and others is a primary focus of our youth ministry.  To be perfectly blunt, it needs to be the primary focus of every ministry.  Jesus did not come to create a system of worship.  He did not come to wrap people up in endless rituals.  Jesus came to free people from bondage, bring healing and restore the broken.  He came to reconcile a relationship that God intended to be from the very beginning in the Garden of Eden.  As a result of sin we were separated from Him but Jesus came to make a way for all of us to be brought back into relationship with Him.

Relationship is vital for ministry.  We need to know and be known by the people we minister to.  We need to be close with people in order to model the relationship that God desires for each of us.  It is through close relationships with others that we are able to find support, comfort, and joy – understanding that Jesus needs to be the center of each of the relationships that we have.  He is the One who brings all of the characteristics listed above and more, but many times He chooses to use people close to us to manifest His presence.

Getting specific to Youth Ministry it is through relationships with others that trust is developed.  Relationships open the door for personal accountability.  We all have blind spots in our personal lives and we need people around us who have permission to “speak into our lives” in order to help us work out character flaws.  This doesn’t happen with just any two people.  If someone walked up to me on the street and pointed out an area of weakness in my life I would have a hard time accepting it but if it came from a close friend I would think through what I need to do to correct the issue.  Teens are craving relationships.  The more that we can do to help model healthy relationships the better they will each be set up for a future of good relationships.

One goal in my ministry is that every teenager would have an adult that was crazy about them.  Not in a weird, freaky way, but in a way that they know there is someone who they can turn to when they need advice or help with a situation.  I want every teen to have someone who will celebrate the victories with them and at the same time have a shoulder to cry on when tragedy strikes.  Research has shown that youth who grow to lead successful adult lives have had at least five healthy adult mentors in their life.  I want my ministry to be a place that helps young people walk into a strong, successful future.

It’s not just about fun times though.  While I desire that the youth leaders that I have on my team would attend soccer games, dance recitals, math competitions (yes, they actually have them!) and school plays I believe it goes beyond that.  Relationships are for the good times and the bad times.  Over the years we have had several tragedies that teens have had to walk through and the fact that each of them have had a youth leader that walked through it with them has made all the difference in the world.  Within each of us is the innate desire for relationship.  We are hard wired to be connected with others.  With relationship comes influence and with that influence comes responsibility.

I have encountered people throughout my years in ministry who have tried to gain influence through relationship in order to sway me one way or another.  This is where the responsibility comes in.  Relationships are not a means to an end.  If relationships are used in order to gain influence over someone there becomes an abuse of the trust that has been earned and will end up causing further issues in the future for the one who has experienced the loss of trust.  We must be certain that are motives are pure when we begin a new relationship with a teen.  If the relationship is being formed in order to have a voice in the teens life it is not a good foundational footing and will end up in hurt and pain.

Relational ministry is when you spend time with youth in the “in-between” times.  It occurs outside of events or meetings where you know you will encounter each other.  Relationships really don’t have anything to do with fixing something – it is more about simply “being with” people.  Bo Boshers, in his book, The Be-With Factor, explores Jesus’ example of being with his disciples in a variety of real-life settings. It’s not another program, but it’s about reaching a generation by focusing on a few and doing life with them. Amazing things happen when you spend time with a student purposefully and intentionally—running an errand together, going to the store, grabbing lunch, letting ministry happen naturally. The impact of your faith, shown in everyday life, will transform students’ lives—and the impact on one student has the potential to reach a whole generation.

As each leader is growing in their relationship with Christ they have the unique opportunity to model a growing relationship with a teen.  That is my desire in relational ministry.  How are you doing this?  Are you connecting with teens in a deeper level than just as their leader?  Are they able to see how you live in the day to day activities?

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One response to this post.

  1. […] Elemente für die Jugendarbeit: 1,2,3,4,5 + das Ganze geht bis Teil […]

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