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For some reason my first two years in youth ministry were a lot like my first two years in middle school. I wanted the teens to like me; therefore, I ran my ministry in the way that I thought they would want. Each week was designed to entertain them. I wanted them to bring their friends; however, I was going about it in the wrong way. In the end more energy went into the activities, and food then it did into the content of the program. Attendance was inconsistent, leaders moved on to other ministries and I was frustrated. I was playing it safe.
No one truly enjoys conflict; however, it is something everyone should seek. That’s not to say you should go pick a fight or challenge someone to a duel (Look what happened to Alexander Hamilton). If you want your teens and leaders to grow, you need to have a ministry looking to expand and challenge itself. That means knowing your limits, and having the willingness to cross the line from time to time. A youth ministry willing to take risks is an attractive one; however, it’s not as simple as doing whatever wows the crowd. To successfully push the limits of your ministry and grow in new ways you must:
- Seek Wisdom – There are lines to be crossed and ones that should never be approached. To know where to push, pull and bend you need to make sure you are seeking wisdom of others and God’s direction. True risk takers are the ones who know what boundaries to work within and which ones to bust through. Before you cross the line make sure you know why.
- Do It With Excellence – If you are going to take a risk or throw out a challenge make sure you are well prepared. Most challenges never take because it was poorly communicated. If you want teens to follow through and understand deep truths make sure it’s as clear as day. If you want to better your odds of success make sure your plan is well thought out and everyone is on the same page.
- Display Humility – If you mess up, admit it. Nothing is worst than a leader who acts as though they are right despite all the evidence showing that they are not. If you make a mistake in your ministry and own up to it, the teens will appreciate your humility and authenticity more than your perfection.
- Team Up – Never take a risk on your own because the burden of failure is a heavy one. On top of seeking other people’s wisdom, see if you can share responsibility in the task. With a team you can develop a better plan, with more strength.
People want a leader who will challenge them with confidence and humility. They want someone who is willing to take on new things; however admit when they are wrong. Your ministry is designed to challenge students in the messages you give. It is designed to have an impact in the community with the projects you take on. To do big things you need to think big and believe big. Youth ministry is meant to test new waters, try new things and break through old paradigms.
How are you crossing the line in your youth ministry?