The face of student ministry has changed many times over the 14+ years that I have been involved in it. However, changes in the culture do not mean that people change. So many times as student pastors we try to find NEW ways to reach crowds and to grow our student ministry. I would like to propose the idea that it is unnecessary to weary yourself chasing after ever-changing trends in student ministry. These cultural trends come in with a bang and in less than a year, they are gone and you find yourself running in yet another direction chasing another trend that will soon change and leave you empty and breathless. In order to effectively minister to students and parents, we need to focus on the core values of all people. Focusing on these core values will help us build students and the student ministry from the inside-out.
Here is a list of core values that every person desires -STUDENTS INCLUDED!
L.E.A.R.N. these values!
Love– The bible is full of this command- Love is something that we were created to do and created to desire. Simply put, Love your neighbor as yourself. Love is an internal start toward an external purpose-We must Love who we are even if we do not like our shape, body type, personality traits, habits. Students need to be taught to Love themselves and Love others.
Encouragement– You can only pat yourself on the back so many times before you realize it’s your hand doing the patting! Every person in life wants to be Encouraged and lifted up. Students are no different from anyone else. While learning how to Encourage yourself in the Lord is important, I think we leaders and parents need to work on Encouraging this generation to be more hungry, creative, exuberant, faithful, dependable, and responsible than ever before. Encouragement: we have got to have it!
Acceptance– Everyone wants to be the first picked for the kickball game- No one wants to be the last man standing…awkwardly waiting. Teens want to attend a church where they are Accepted, liked and valued. They pick their friends based on Acceptance. They want JESUS to Accept them- Students need to be taught that JESUS made each of us and HE Accepts us!
Relationships– We were created to have Relationships, to need each other. As a student pastor, you may have no interest in fishing, skateboarding or keeping abreast on the newest technology, but for the sake of building a Relationship with your student, make an effort to connect in some way. Give opportunities for students and parents to work together toward a common goal. Team-building exercises and opportunities help build solid, trusted Relationships, which often open the door for student pastors and leaders to minister one-on-one to students. Maintaining these Relationships helps students see what having a Relationship with Christ looks like. Relationships are important, cultivate them.
Nobody LEFT BEHIND– Have you ever been in a large venue or a city you are not familiar with and realize that you have been left behind by your family or group? That is not a good feeling. No one likes to be left behind- We need to work hard to make sure that we don’t leave this generation behind. Without them changing the course of the future, souls will be left behind and we will be responsible. Simply put, if we grow increasingly weary chasing cultural trends in order to make a name for ourselves, how can we L.E.A.R.N. core values and effectively minister to teens and parents? Unless we concentrate on growing teens from the inside-out, we will find ourselves in the next few years wondering, “What happened to the young generation?” Work hard at including and bringing along the next generation. Build the bridge, fill the gap and lock arms with teens and parents…NOBODY LEFT BEHIND!