Hope for the Youth Ministry Machine?

What is wrong with the Youth ministry Machine of today?  Perhaps we don’t have enough programs for students? Maybe we don’t have enough resources available?  Or there is of course the chance that the problem with youth ministry is that the youth fail to see our genius?  These are the kinds of questions we have spent the past two days praying over and discussing at the NNYM Youth Ministry Executive Council in Costa Mesa, CA.  So what have we learned so far?  Let’s look at the three options posed above:

1) If the problem is not having enough programs then we are indeed without hope!  A casual look around the youth ministry world reveals a plethora or programmatic wonder.  Yes we have many amazing and well intended programs that are clearly intending to do the work of Jesus.  Actually we probably have too many programs to be honest. Lack of programs is clearly not the problem.

2) Of course lack of resources clearly isn’t the problem either. Simply do a Google search of “Youth Ministry resources” and then set aside a weekend to review your results.  Resources are a good thing and help many lead wonderful disciple producing ministries.  I love resources like books, and videos as much as the next guy but clearly lack of resources is not the issue.

3) Maybe we can all just relax and rest in the fact that the real problem is that our ministry genius simply isn’t understood or appreciated by these bratty students who fail to show up for our cutting edge God ordained “Jesus-fests” we produce.  However, if we get honest we really aren’t “all that”; so no that likely isn’t the problem either (bummer I was really rooting for this one).

So if these aren’t the problem what could it possibly be?  I have become convinced that the biggest issue facing the Youth ministry machine was best defined by a statement made during a recent prayer consultation I was blessed to attend.  The statement summed up in 17 words the crux of our problem:  “the youth ministry machine is faulty because it is missing the power of Christ being our all.”  It is simply a matter of our focus.  We have taken our eye off the cross and the empty tomb and put our trust in our own ingenuity, creativity, and wonderful intentions.  It seems that youth ministry, and dare I say the church as a whole, has chosen to wander away from our first love!

My conclusion: the youth ministry machine is not in and of itself something that necessarily needs to be discarded; as long as we are willing to conduct a major overhaul and replace it’s engine.  I picture a day when we stand before the Lord with open hands and repentant hearts as we listen to His guidance & direction, and then make the radical and revolutionary changes that are needed.  Radical changes that reflect our personal commitment to live our lives in light of His grace and in the power of His resurrection.  In essence if we stop trying to make Jesus fit our programs, resources, and gatherings and instead insist that these change to fit Jesus’ purposes, plans, and kingdom goals we will see a youth ministry machine worthy of His Glory and Kingdom! A rebuilt and renewed machine that doesn’t function like a machine at all but instead is a growing and expanding Bride of Christ filled with ministry warriors of all ages who invest in Kingdom worthy endeavors and change the world for His glory!