Did you feel that? I think I felt the ground just shake again. Its been happening more and more lately.
I’m not entirely sure what it is, but my best guess is that its a seismic movement in student ministries everywhere. Its us putting away trends in favor of truth. Its dropping gimmicks and seeking God. Its way less gross out games and way more grow up challenges. Its the necessary shattering of the ministry mold in order to make way for a new approach to discipling students.
Everyday, I feel I’m in the middle of a rushing torrent of ideas, resources, tips, and chances to be unfocused on where I am and what God has called me to do HERE. I love the veritable wellspring of help that flows from places like Youth Specialties, Simply Youth Ministry, Download Youth Ministry, Doug Fields (.com), Life in Student Ministry, Youth Culture Report, Dare2Share, BlueFish, Group, YouthPastor.com, UthStuph, CPYU, The Source, Youthministry.com, the Youth Ministry Garage, and only a million more places. (And now…a moment of silence please for the passing of MoreThanDodgeball.com…..*sniffsniff*…..Thank you.) I love these resources. I use these resources. I value all they bring to the student ministry table. But we CANNOT lose sight of what we are called to be wide awake to:
“Go and make disciples.” Everything other than that should only be considered a tool to get that one thing done.
A couple weeks ago I stood in front of and admonished a room full of middle school students who go crazy when its time to sing worship songs. I mean its an all-out jump, yell, hands-up, face-down, get after it, my-gut hurts-when-I’m-done kind of songfest when these middle schoolers gather in this place to worship. So what in the world would I have to say by way of admonition to students who are apparently crazy about Jesus? Simply put: “Don’t worship worship.” In our highly musical culture of teens and with worship songs now taking kids to new levels of expression, they can actually get caught worshiping the music that triggers emotion rather than worshiping the Jesus who calls them to life. Yikes.
It’s not that worship music is bad, its just that worshiping worship music is bad. And if we’re not careful we might be fostering a culture of students who entirely miss the point of following Jesus. We grab hold of any and all ideas, hyped up gimmicks, and latest trends in order to create something that looks good to us and to students, but doesn’t do the one thing we’re called to do:
“Go and make disciples.”
That’s why I’m glad for the tremors I feel under my feet. That’s why I’m thankful for the continual awakening around me in student ministry. That’s why even in a torrent of incredible tools and helpful resources, I can see God work through even someone like me to “make disciples.”
What about you? How have you grown in your understanding and approach to making disciples? What have you found true and untrue when it comes to loving and leading students?