Most people who sign up to serve in youth ministry with the intentions of making it better or finding a spot where you can contribute the most to the ministry. But then you started serving and despite the many areas you help out in or the things you accomplish, sometimes you leave youth night wondering, “What is my purpose? How do I specifically add to the Youth Ministry?”.
I can’t tell you how many times leaders have stepped down from serving in youth ministry because they felt like they didn’t have a purpose. Or they that it was just a waste of their time. I am not sure if this is where you are at or not, either way I hope this speaks truth into your life.
We talk a lot about purpose at my Church. It’s part of our vision statement, “Unleashing New Purpose in Every Life Through Jesus Christ.” If I was to ask you to write down the following question, “What is your specific purpose at your youth ministry?” What would you write?
When we think about having purpose, we think about things we can physically do to help out. We think about ways we can take our gifts or talents and apply them to the ministry. That’s awesome and that happens often but what if you haven’t found a specific gift/talent to add to the ministry yet? What if you feel like you don’t have something specific to offer to the ministry? Does that mean you don’t have purpose and should just stepped down? No. Because regardless of what you do bring or don’t bring to the table, everyone that signs up to serve, who has a passion and desire to lead students to Christ, has a purpose. That purpose is found in your presence.
The importance of presence in youth ministry far outweighs anything we can do.
We all step into a ministry role with a desire to help. With a desire to take ownership; to be given a specific task and find purpose in ministry through that task. The systems, discipleship, assimilation, check in, outreach, preaching, worship, all of them are contingent upon presence. We could meet next week, skip all of that stuff and just be present, have fun and be there for the students and they would come back. Moving them towards Jesus is what makes the church so unique but if we don’t first show them that we care about them, by being present with them, they won’t care about how much Jesus loves them. Your youth pastor definitely values what you can do in the ministry but I believe your presence is valued even more.
Presence, specifically God’s presence in the lives of His people is wonderfully weaved through scripture. It is in His presence that we are able to overcome the trials we face. You remember in Exodus when Moses lead the people out of Egypt. God was with them.
Exodus 13:21-22 – The LORD showed them the way; during the day he went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud, and during the night he was in a pillar of fire to give them light. In this way they could travel during the day or night. 22 The pillar of cloud was always with them during the day, and the pillar of fire was always with them at night.
He was with them and while he was with them what did he do? He protected them. He split the sea for them. He vanquished their enemies.
Jump forward a few chapters though, and you will see what happens to the Israelites when God isn’t physically present. Moses in Exodus chapter 31 goes up on Mount Sinai with God, he stays there with God for 40 days. And in just 40 days time the Israelites grow restless…
Exodus 32:1 – When the people saw how long it was taking Moses to come back down the mountain, they gathered around Aaron. “Come on,” they said, “make us some gods who can lead us. We don’t know what happened to this fellow Moses, who brought us here from the land of Egypt.”
Our presence is vital to the continued discipleship of these teenagers. They need us to guide them, to walk with them, to bring them back when they’ve gone astray.
The times when the Israelites were at their best was in the presence of God. Presence brings victory.
I think the times when are students are at their best is when we are present in their lives; when we are shining our light to them. Modeling what a Christ follower looks like for them. Every time you come through the doors of your youth group, you are present with them. Students light up when their leader is there. You don’t get to see it but I guarantee when they get a text from you, a comment from you, they light up. They get excited because they know someone cares about them. And not because you have to, but because you want to.
1 Peter 5:2-4 – 2 When you shepherd the flock God has given you, watch over them not because you have to but because you want to. For this is how God would want it not because you’re being compensated somehow but because you are eager to watch over them. 3 Don’t lead them as if you were a dictator, but lead your flock by example; 4 and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will be crowned with honor that will shine brightly forever.
Youth Ministry many times is a thankless job. Most of the time we don’t see the fruit of our sacrifice until much later in life and at times it can be disheartening. It can cause us to think, “Am I serving a purpose here?”. So many great people leave youth ministry because they don’t feel valued, or needed, they don’t feel like they have a role.
I want to tell you that,
Your presence is the role.
Your presence is needed.
Your presence is valued.
Your presence is the purpose.
At the end of the day your investment in the lives of these students is what matters most.