Fresh into my first year of youth ministry, I found myself sharing a long list of accomplishments with an old sage of a minister. He listened to me go on and on about how needed I was in the lives of teenagers in my church and community. The seasoned pastor listened to me boast about being called in the middle of the night to address a teenage drama or how I had given several of my house keys to students in my ministry. As I finally began to realize how special I was, I paused and the old man began to speak. He said, “Son, do you know what you have done? You have cut off the legs of the body of Christ and you’ve left one hell of a mess”. Not exactly the response I was looking for, but one I’ll never forget.
This conversation is one of the defining moments in my ministry that continues to push me to partner with parents, para-church ministries and many more. I have been humbled since those days but I still fight the urge to put that old superman cape back on. I honestly think that our theology is the culprit. When we focus so much on Me and Jesus, aka “Mejus”, we often find ourselves trying to be each body part within the body of Christ. When we understand the beauty of “Wejus” which is abundant throughout the Old Testament, Acts and Pauls’s letters, we will then find ourselves working side by side a wide variety of faithful and willing servants.
So what has changed since those days? I believe that God has allowed me to play a role in recruiting a wide variety of faithful friends who weren’t always flashy or the most talented. I have seen the beauty of those friends using their God given talents to reach many teenagers in the name of Jesus Christ. For youth ministry to be effective and sustainable, we must move to a “we” over “me” philosophy of ministry. The village style of youth ministry will always be messy. The village style of youth ministry will always be a better picture of Christ’s church.