Events vs Evangelism
Do you constantly feel pressured to fill your youth ministry calendar with events, programs, and trips to keep your youth occupied? If so, have you ever sat down to analyze the effectiveness of these types of events? Whether you have or not, it would be a logical idea to consistently analyze your programming to ensure that your schedule is tailored to lead teenagers to a fruitful relationship with Jesus Christ versus filling their schedules with meaningless events.
Undoubtedly, we all love to have a good time with our students. These nights are often what keep our fire for youth ministry going. We love to connect with and compete with students, but more than anything, we love beating our students in whatever sort of competition we may create. As fun as events and special nights can be, we must ask ourselves if they are helpful in developing strong disciples of Christ.
Regardless of your place in ministry, or any job for that matter, it is not only necessary but also extremely wise to review your plan and its effectiveness. When it comes to youth ministry, we often host numerous nights throughout the year that are dedicated to having fun, bringing outside teens into our ministries, and more. While these nights have their place in youth ministry, if they are not leading teenagers to a closer relationship with Jesus, is it fruitful? The answer is no! As youth ministers, we must never forget that our primary goal and responsibility is to lead teenagers to develop, strengthen, and grow in their relationship with Christ.
So, how do we analyze our events? In all honesty, it’s actually pretty simple. We must ensure that every time we are with our students, whether that is on a normal Wednesday night, Sunday morning, Sunday night, at a special event, at a restaurant, or a weeklong camp, Jesus Christ must be exalted through it! As Eric Geiger and Jeff Borton wrote in their book Simple Student Ministry, “A myriad of programs will steal energy and attention from what your ministry has designed as essential. A cluttered student ministry calendar becomes the enemy of your simple process.” The key is to ensure that all activities can be related to Jesus in some form or fashion.
As a bi-vocational youth pastor, I must admit that events and programming are not my specialty, mainly because of time restraints. However, I recently finished a youth ministry class through Liberty University that helped me see these events in a much greater light. Throughout that class, I was tasked with developing my philosophy for youth ministry. That meant developing a year-long calendar packed with everything from sermon series, Sunday school lessons, events, camps, and, you guessed it, special events/nights.
While this class was very interesting and helpful, it caused me to second-guess how I thought about these events. It caused me to second-guess how I thought about the entire programming of my youth ministry. One of the best quotes I remember from a book I read in this class came from the same book previously mentioned by Geiger and Borton. They stated, “When students believe that God engages them only at big events, they subconsciously accept that God speaks to them only in those places.”
Once a year, we host a World Record Night, where we try to break some silly world records. While this night is tailored to inviting students who don’t necessarily like church, we do not let the opportunity pass by to present the Gospel to these students. Just as the students think the night is ending, we call them all together and discuss how we all put so much effort into being great or doing great things, but ultimately, we should put even more attention into making our relationship with Jesus great!
As shepherds of young people, we must ensure that our students firmly understand that God is the same regardless of the event, location, lights, sound, etc. Of course, there is and always will be the need for special events, trips, and programming. However, if the goal of these events is not to lead teenagers to saving faith and maturity in Christ, it may just be time to reconsider our priorities.
Share your thoughts with others in our YM360 community:
- What events/programs are on your calendar every year that are tailored to leading lost students to Jesus? Are there any events on your calendar that may need to be removed?
- Do you ensure that the overall goal of your programming is leading students to Christ regardless of the methods? How so?
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