Today we are going to dig into the value of being a minister to the whole church, not just youth. I think there is a perception of youth ministry – and we often aid in the perception – that we are babysitters, that we are entertainers, that we just feed pizza, that we are shallow, that we don’t dig deep with teenagers. I believe, for the most part, that’s not true. How can we, instead of focusing on that, allow our church to see a difference in what we’re doing?
First, it begins with recognizing the value in being a minister to all people in the church even when our concentration, our focus, our specialization or our calling is with youth. We are called to the Gospel ministry and yes, sometimes he calls us to be in age-specific ministries, but we need to realize our ultimate calling is the Gospel ministry.
Second, I think there is a lot of value in loving on senior adults. Serve your senior adults, especially take care of widows, and get your teenagers active in their lives. Remember that senior adults are big supporters of ministries that go on in the church. But if they don’t know what’s going on because they don’t know you and all they see is a youth minister who might dress different, who might look different, who acts different, who has teenagers on the front row with their cell phones out, what rebels they are … The value of spending time with senior adults in your church is that they get to know you and build relationships with you, and that might actually bleed over into them getting to know the kids, and the value of that is incredible. When teenagers start bridging a gap with senior adults and senior adults begin bridging a gap with teenagers, what a difference that can make in the future of the lives of the teenagers. That’s making disciples. That’s the Titus 3 model. In churches where I’ve served, we even went so far as to play games with them. The senior adults got to see and play games the teenagers wanted to play, the teenagers got to play some games the senior adults wanted to play, and what a great time of fellowship they had.
Third, we are called to minister to parents, families and young adults. One of my greatest joys in ministry was to go and have kids just run and want to tackle you with love because you’ve made an impact in their lives. Just a few weeks ago, my wife had a conversation with a parent whose daughter said, “I miss Scooter.” Well, that wasn’t because I was something special, it was because there was a relationship there with someone she looked up to, someone that loved on her and poured into her, and I thought, “That’s a future youth.” Build relationships with the children in your church because they are going to transition into youth ministry at some point.
There’s also a practical benefit in connecting with these groups. Who’s going to be putting on fundraisers, and who’s going to be attending your fundraisers? The church, of course, but if they don’t know what you’re raising money for, if they don’t see the benefit and the value of what you do, how will they support it? There is such a great value in sharing our vision and sharing our passion and letting the church see what the teenagers do and what a difference is being made in the ministry we’re doing, that we’re doing more than just shoving pizza or soft drinks or sugar at the kids, or just entertaining them, but there is true discipleship happening.
I’ll never forget an experience when I was leaving a church. It was our last Sunday there and the college students were doing “Thank You for Giving to the Lord” for us, and in the midst of that, in the middle of the song, this lady walked up to me and said, “For six months I was in the hospital and you came to visit me often. You don’t know how much that meant to me.” So make visits. You don’t know what kind of difference you can make in someone else’s life, just like I didn’t know what a difference I was making in Miss Lucille’s life.
Also, don’t forget your church staff is important and you should be a minister to them. There are a lot of benefits and there’s a lot of value in that.
And last, we are to be a support for our pastors. I believe when you become a minister of your church and not just a youth pastor focused on teenagers, what a difference, what a relief, what a help, what a support you get to be for your pastor. What a great opportunity to pour into our churches, our fellowship of believers, but what a great value to our pastor if he has someone there who he knows is on his side to support him and is there to help him do the work of the Gospel ministry at the local church to which you are called.