The other day I had the opportunity to host a little luncheon at my church with 70 youth workers from around our city. It was actually a lunch hosted by my good friends Mark Matlock and Adam Mclain with Youth Specialties. They did an incredible job explaining the exciting things going on with Youth Specialties and Planet Wisdom.
Sure, I took away a lot of information from Mark and Adam but it's been a while since I've been around youth workers in that kind of setting. Here's a few thoughts I have about youth leaders in general and together.
Youth Ministry is Growing Up
There are a bunch of sharp, experienced, passionate youth leaders around. Over the last years God has blessed student ministry with great leaders who love students. Gone (well, almost) is the day when youth ministry is reserved for the person fresh out of seminary on their way to a "real job". In fact, there were a few people in the room that were as old as me or older, that's exciting. (and rare)
Youth Workers are Fun
You can imagine the buzz in the room. There's something about working with students that keeps us light hearted and young. (if it doesn't, you should probably do something else} Sure, student ministry is more than fun but aren't you glad it's fun most the time?
Youth Workers Enjoy Being Together
It seemed in our little room there was a genuine sense that we wanted to know each other. During the after meeting meetings there were great exchanges and questions about "what do you do about this" and "how do ya'll pull this off". Of course we can be arrogant about our ministries, but many times we as youth workers know we need the sharing of ideas to make us better. Reaching the next generation can't be done by one person or one ministry.
We Need Each Other
No one understands youth workers like youth workers. Our Kingdom work is greatly enhanced when we make spending a little time together a priority, yes a priority. If it's not a priority it will get neglected in light of the more urgent things. Notice I said urgent, not important.
With all the "sky is falling" statistics we hear about student ministry sometimes we can get discouraged. Yes, we need to continually adjust and learn how to better connect students to Jesus but I'm thankful for all the youth workers who are doing the ministry of "being there", being God with "skin on" to a generation who desperately needs the love and grace of Jesus.
Hey, if you work with students, Thanks AND keep up the good work. God is using you.