(re:post: written for church newsletter - jan 2010)
Ten Years: WHAT A DECADE.
It’s been ten years since I took on the role as Director of Youth Ministries. I’ve seen a lot happen in those ten years. 10 mission trips. 10 CYF camps. 10 Junior High camps. 24 Winter Jam weekends. 11 Atwood Retreats. 300+ Youth Focus meetings. 550+ Bible studies. 50+ Breakfast Clubs. Plus an assortment of other camping trips, game nights, worship events, swim parties, and discipleship and leadership training events. Over the years our youth ministry has gone through many changes. In the midst of our busyness we’ve tried our best to give students opportunities to connect with a living God, to help them discover their gifts and to help them see God’s divine purpose and plan for their lives. As it is with ministry, some got it… some didn’t. Regardless, the ministry constantly adapted to meet the needs of youth.
In ten years, we’ve witnessed tragedies in our community, in our nation and in the world. We’ve watched the world change with the evolution of our culture, our technology, our media communication and the like. We’ve welcomed 24 hour news. Reality TV. Hybrid cars. YouTube. Facebook. Twitter. Cell phones. Texting. Google. iPods. Digital this and that. $3 mochas. Super Wal Mart’s. Environmental awareness. Do-nothing politicians. Cultural clashes. Terrorist scares. Economic collapse. Etc. whatever.
In the midst of such global change and new inventions, ministries and churches were shown new ways to spread the Gospel of Christ. Some got it. Some didn’t. Unfortunately, not all churches or Christians have embraced the reality of the changes upon us.
Some may have said ‘let’s go back to the way it used to be – when things were better.’ I say ‘let’s embrace the newness and see how God is working through it all’. Paul reminds us in 1 Cor. 9:24-27 to ‘keep our eyes on the prize.’ Folks, the prize is in front of us, not behind us. The Gospel is the same, yesterday, today and forever – but our approach to ministry and reaching those who need the love of Jesus most is not. It needs to change as society changes… or else, before too long, Christianity will be an after thought… more than it already is now. We don’t need to go back – we need to go forward, and blaze a trail of righteousness, loving the unlovable, serving the unservable, and reaching the unreachable. This can happen if we embrace change and understand that God is guiding us. We need to trust the Spirit. It’s difficult to follow when we’re comfortably seated on our couches or in our pews.
It’s going to be hard work. It takes discipline. Or else we run the risk of being ‘disqualified’ as Paul writes (vs. 27). For those of you lacking energy? We will carry you. For those of you discouraged? We will walk beside you.
I once saw a picture of a beggar on a street corner. He held a sign that said ‘forget your coins, I want change!’ You see, the world no longer needs a handout. The world needs change, meaningful, life-altering change. And if we, the church, are not willing to ‘be the change we want to see in the world’ then what’s the point in trying? Together, we can do it. We can be it. We can show it. I know this because the Holy Spirit promises to be our comforter, advisor, encourager and strength. (Psalm 143:10, Acts 9:31, etc)
Where will this church be in 10 years? Will the world care about our message? I hope and pray that we have the courage to ‘run this race with our eyes on the prize’ which is Christ Jesus.
Director of Youth Ministries (Nov. ’99-present)