Why do you or don’t you serve teenagers?

I’ve been thinking about my motivation or lack thereof quite a bit in the last few years as it pertains to all kinds of things. What makes me think I’m ______, why do I always _____  etc. My daughter Ruthie is also entering the “why” stage and I feel like it is an incredibly hard question for many of us to answer clearly and honestly.

So, I asked myself the other day “Self, why are you still sticking with youth ministry and not moving over to be a senior pastor or sell insurance?” Here is my WHY for youth ministry; every time a child is dedicated/baptized in my church, I am asked a question by the pastor. He says “do you (congregation) promise to help raise this child in the faith so that one day they will stand before you and claim Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior?” This is a large part of the WHY for me. I want to play a role in helping young people transition from a borrowed faith to an owned faith and I don’t want to do it alone! This WHY has little to do with me being a paid youth worker and more to do with responding to a need that happens to be a passion. (ps. these past few sentence made the hair on my right arm stand up)

Let me put some more skin on this bone with a short story. I was backpacking a few years ago with some high school guys who told us their life stories around the fire each night. For some reason, each of them had incredibly moving and sad stories. Many of them longed for a father figure who would be more attentive and encouraging. I remember walking away from the camp fire one night and crying as hard as I’ve ever cried in my entire life. At that moment I honestly believe God had me focus on a statement that I’ve never forgotten; if your heart no longer breaks over stories like these, it is time to move on to another vocation. I have pondered this statement many times and if nothing else, it has served as a “heart monitor” for me and youth ministry.

I know I said in the last post that our titles often guide us, but answering WHY could be the most defining question we answer.

I’d love to hear your response to, why do you minister to teenagers or what has kept you from ministering to youth?

“Youth ministry is the church’s ministry, not just that of specialists who can “relate” to young people. The mandate to be there for young people belongs to the Christian community, not to any individual or group of individuals.” Kenda Dean