Don’t you just love it when this happens?
I love it when someone accuses someone else of something even though the accuser doesn’t know anything about the person they’re accusing.
<< Please catch the sarcasm there! >>
Here’s what happened:
I received an email from a youth pastor who accused me of being shallow and watering down the gospel to attract a crowd.
I’ll be honest. That stings a little.
Actually, it stings a lot.
It stings because it’s not true.
Let me explain…
< rant starts here >
First of all, I wrote a book called From Crowd to Core. My goal is not (and has never been) to attract a crowd and be content with that. My goal is (and has always been) to move the crowd into community and then on to leadership.
In the book, I use the metaphor of helping students climb that mountain of faith. Leadership is at the top of the mountain because leaders are the ones who consistently put their faith into action and make a difference for others. That’s where we want every student to be, eventually.
But when it comes to those who are standing around at the bottom of the mountain, I say: “Let the people in the crowd enjoy the views. Help them have a good time. Get their attention. Engage them in conversation. It won’t be long before they’re counting the cost of climbing themselves” (p. 9). The book provides a systematic way to move them forward, but you have to start where they are.
Second, my church’s mission statement explicitly states that our goal is “to lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ.” Creating an attractive environment is an important part of that. You can’t make much of an impact with the gospel if students don’t want to come (and keep coming back). Growth typically happens over time. Trust must be established. Relationships must be developed. That’s when students are drawn to explore more about Jesus.
Another reason why the accusation stings is because of my own journey. I didn’t grow up going to church. My family wasn’t religious at all. We didn’t even go to church on Christmas and Easter. Eventually, I became a Christian as a senior in high school because a few Young Life leaders cared about me and created a fun, positive environment where my friends and I wanted to go. If that hadn’t done that, I have no reason to think I would be a Christian today. And my guess is that there are lots of students in your town who are just like I was.
I love depth. I love philosophy. I love theology. I could talk all day and all night about the mysteries of the gospel and nuances between doctrinal positions. I’m almost finished with my doctorate (with a concentration in Scripture and Theology), but that’s not where anyone starts their journey. As pastors, it’s our job to meet our students where they are and them forward from there.
• For some students, that’ll mean we have to engage them in relationship.
• For other students, that’ll mean we have to equip them with discipleship.
• For a few students, that’ll mean we have to empower them for leadership.
Now that that’s off my chest, I’ll move on to share something that’s really going to help you and your ministry.
< rant ends here >
Are your students really growing in their faith?
I recently came across a free tool that will help you assess where you’re students are at when it comes to their beliefs, spiritual habits, family life, and even how they view themselves.
It’s called Insights.
You can check it out for yourself at: insights.feed.bible
I’m so impressed with what they’ve created that I’m telling everyone I can about it.
You’ll have to create a username and password to access the surveys, but it’s free. You can preview each of the different surveys before you use them. They’re all done really well. They’re short, anonymous, easy-to-answer, and yield valuable insights to help you understand what’s really going on with your students. Plus, you’ll be able to see detailed charts that are created from the results (broken down by grade level, etc.).
Imagine sharing that at your next staff meeting or church business meeting! You’ll be everyone’s hero!
What’s your action step from here? Make sure you’re meeting students where really are, not where you wish they were. Go to insights.feed.bible, set up an account, and start getting some real feedback about what’s really happening with the students in your ministry.
Latest posts by Trevor Hamaker (see all)
- A Plea for Practical Theology (An Open Letter to Youth Pastors) - August 18, 2019
- 7 Guardrails for New Youth Pastors (and Everyone Else in Ministry) - August 18, 2019
- A Free Tool to Measure What’s Really Happening with Your Students - August 18, 2019