Ghosting: Urban dictionary defines it as: “When a person cuts off all communication with their friends or the person they’re dating, with ZERO warning or notice beforehand.”
We have all had the talk with a student about someone they were either dating or talking to, and they say, “I think they blocked me” or “I don’t know what happened.” They just got GHOSTED!
On the other side, the person doing the GHOSTING often justifies it as a way to cease dating the GHOSTEE without hurting their feelings.
It’s the conflict resolution that they deem fit, due to the low interaction between both parties. No-hurt, no-harm approach.
Here’s the deal: All in student ministry have been GHOSTED at some point, whether it was a student, leader or a parent. If you haven’t, it’s coming soon to a church near you!
We all have seen it happen. New people come into the church and begin to visit, learning names, going to events, showing interest, and then poof! They’re gone in the wind.
We stand around wondering what happened, who made them mad, who said something wrong, who didn’t love on them enough.
For this post, we will talk about “Boo.” We all know this student. Boo has been coming for months now and has been on trips near and far. They have been engaged in Bible study weekly, even helped in mission efforts. You have laughed and cried with this student through living life together.
Boo ain’t going nowhere! Next thing you know you’re asking, “Where did Boo go?” No one knows, but everyone speculates as to what has happened to Boo.
You’re stuck asking yourself, “Why did Boo leave?” Did they go to another church? Did we not offer enough? We get it. Most are looking for the right fit, friends, food and fun. Right?
Gone are the days when a student stays because it’s the right thing or they feel connected.
The fact is GHOSTING hurts. As student pastors, we take the calling of God on our lives as a serious one even if others still don’t.
After being GHOSTED, we might feel like an idiot, “I’ve just been played,” feeling deeply disrespected.
We can’t let it affect our next steps negatively. Maybe it makes you feel like you were just punched in the gut. You find the total disregard as an insult. Then there is the hit on your self-esteem.
Don’t go there, Terrance! (Humbly, I know my worth is in Christ Jesus alone.)
The only thing worse than someone leaving is when that person doesn’t even consider you worth telling that they were leaving.
Next to seeing a precious student lost or living outside of what they know to be the truth, GHOSTING is one of the cruelest forms of torture a student pastor can endure.
Your time, emotions, energy and sacrifices for “Boo” areas if they never happened.
GHOSTING, no matter the context is passive-aggressive behavior that leaves scars.
Listen, student pastor. Prayerfully consider this: Have you ever GHOSTED a student?
We sometimes begin an intentional relationship and somehow get lost in the craziness that is life, and before you know it, an unintentional-GHOST mode has occurred.
This sometimes can be caused by us trying to do too much in the lives of so many.
Then there is the student pastor who only stays around for a while, waiting for the next best thing. (Not condemning the true God-timing of moving to another church.) They often GHOST the students they loved.
I know. I know. This is how we are taught to do it — to not create conflict and personality attachment.
There is a remedy for this problem. First, stay away from personality-driven ministry. Be intentional in helping adult leaders form meaningful relationships within the student ministry.
Second, establish that God’s plans are higher than our ways and, whether you are with them or not, you will always love them, pray for them, and look for God to do great things through their life.
Don’t be the one GHOSTING!!! Remember it hurts.
Been GHOSTED? It truly says nothing about your worth. It’s more about the student and their true understanding of what was happening.
Do your intentional, Christ-sharing relationships establish your care in such a way that you are guarded against GHOSTING? I doubt we can ever safeguard against it 100 percent.
Don’t allow GHOSTING by students in your ministry to make a negative impact on what God is doing in the lives of the other students.
I often find when one GHOSTS, God will bring two or more students into the ministry, not to replace but to say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”
Staying faithful and obedient to God and sharing the love of Christ should be our focus in all we do.
Remember, student pastor: You are making a difference in the lives of students for now and eternity!
Have confidence in your calling and God will bless you with healing for the hurt.
Terrance Andrews has been a youth minister for five years and is an active member of the YMlink Team.