Relationships Are Key

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Today Mark McLendon joins us to talk about how our “Relationships Are Key”.

Mark serves as the student minister at Eastern Hills Baptist, Montgomery. He is a graduate of Baylor University and Southwestern Seminary.

Today we’re talking about relationships are key in youth ministry. I’m going to probably burst a couple people’s bubbles when I say this next sentence, but in five years no one will remember what you preached on this Wednesday, but in five years they will see the footprints that you’ve left behind. The question is: what direction were your feet moving in?

I think it’s real important to realize that relationship is super key as we deal with youth ministry and students.  The message we preach on Wednesday night while important and will help in that moment for the holy spirit to move in the student’s lives, it will only be as impactful as the relationships you had before that night. Students care a lot about authenticity. They care about do you live what you preach. They are watching us.

You know the best example of this really is Jesus. There’s a book called Training the Twelve by A.B Bruce. A really old book but a really good book talking about how Jesus invested in twelve lives. When we look at the life of Jesus and his ministry we see that he had huge crowds: five thousand for a meal, four thousand for a meal, the huge amount of people that he had at the sermon on the mount, but the closer that we get to the cross and the more messages that he talks about, the sacrifice of what it is to follow Christ, those numbers begin to dwindle until at the foot of the cross there are just a few left.

Why did they stay? They stayed because they had a deep relationship with Jesus. What’s so amazing to me is that these twelve apostles are what God rested his whole plan on and where Christianity came from today.

I think sometime we get so wrapped up in the crowds and the numbers and what we really need to be looking at is are we making disciples? Not only are we making disciples, but are we making disciples that also in turn into making other disciples?

When I started at Eastern Hills eight years ago, I started doing some intentional ministry one on one with some people that were there. There was one guy, he had just become a Christian and we had been meeting since then and still meet today. In the first six years I kept on telling him ‘who are you going to mentor? Who are you going to be disciplining?’ He kept pushing back at me, ‘I’m not ready. I just need to spend more time with you’ and I kept saying ‘No man. Who are you going to be mentoring. People are going to be looking. What are you doing intentionally?’

Finally, in the last year he began spending time with one student. Now, there are five students that are being mentored because of his ministry. He’s got grandkids and great grandkids of people that he’s been mentoring that are now walking that journey.

I tell every student it’s important to have a Paul in your life, a Barnabas in your life and a Timothy in your life. A Paul is someone that is your mentor, you’re looking up to and you’re looking and seeing how they walk and move. A Barnabas is someone that is encouraging you. It’s like that competition. They’re doing well and you fall a little bit, they’ll pick you up. You’re doing well, they fall a little bit, you help them and you pick them up.

And then there’s a Timothy. Someone you’re talking to and helping them get up to the next branch of spiritual growth and encouraging them. That’s so important. That helps us be the men that we want to be and the ladies you want to be.

An intentional relationship is so key when following after Christ. So what does that look like in your ministry? Who are the people you’re investing in? I know that that sounds weird but then once you start doing that, Wednesday nights when you start speaking you will have great feet to move powerfully. Then as more and more students are discipling and encouraging you really get some synergy and movement.

It’s important that you go to their games, that you go outside of the church to experience life so they can see how you function, how you deal with tragedy, how you deal with joys, how you put Christ in all of those things so they can start modeling that too.

Relationship is super key. Don’t forget it. It is so easy for us to forget that spending time and doing the sermon or spending time with personal counseling. Don’t forget to be intentional with your students. Give them your time.

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