In a previous post 'The future of youth ministry-consumers or servants', I asked if one of the major changes we face as youth leaders today is to orientate our young people away from a consumer mentality (which some argue has gripped the western church) to an attitude of service. Moving from spectators only, to participants in demonstrating Christ's compassion for the world, bringing Good News to those who have never heard it and engaging in sacrificial service because that's what the Lord Jesus would want from us.
Isn't one of the marks of a deepening faith, a servant heart? A desire to do good in the name of Jesus? A passion to reach others with a life transforming Gospel?
'For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.' Ephesians 2:10
It's a big challenge, but where can we start? How can we inject new
energy, depth and meaning into our discipleship strategy? Where can we find opportunities for young people to demonstrate their faith in action? How can their friends see and hear the difference following
Let me be clear, I'm not an advocate for scrapping everything and starting again. We've lost our way a bit and it's time for a course correction. We have a new opportunity to change the focus away from 'self' to 'serve' (Acts 20:25) and help young people to play their part in transforming the world.
Where do we start? Right where we are! Start in a small way. The longest journey begins with one small step.
WHERE DO I BEGIN TEACHING?
May I suggest a good place to start is to see what Jesus says? Then what does the rest of the New Testament say about serving others. There's no shortage of passages to look at!
Take a look with your group at Matthew 25:31-46. This can be a tough and uncomfortable passage. Is the real evidence of true faith in the way we act? Does what we do for others demonstrate what we really think about Jesus' words? In this parable Jesus describes acts of mercy we can all do every day. They don't depend on wealth or ability, so what hinders us? Other passages you can look at are 1 Peter 4:10-11 and James 2: 14-17.
If you're working with a young group or with children, there are many Jesus moments and parables which encourage our thinking about helping and serving others. For example,
- The Boy Who Shared His Lunch (John 6: 1-16) - sharing what little we have.
- The Widow's Mite (Luke 21:1-2) - giving all that we have.
- The Good Samaritan (Luke 10: 25-37) - Who is our neighbour? Wherever we are, there are needy people close by, even if they are 'different'.
WHERE CAN I BEGIN ENGAGING?
Start local. What could you do right on your doorstep?
What community projects or outreach is your church involved in? How can the young people be creatively involved? Join up and be part of the big church :-)
What other projects are there in your community? You don't need to reinvent the wheel - contribute the willing hands of your group to an existing project or scheme.
- Be 'buddies' for a disabled group trip.
- Visit kids in hospital with games.
- Throw a party.
- Paint a mural.
- Collect items for a homeless hostel.
- Feed the hungry.
- Visit the elderly housebound members of your church.
- Sponsor a child through 'Compassion' or another agency. Do some fundraising, not for yourselves, but for others in real need.
- Contribute to an environmental project.
- Plan and host an evangelistic meeting with music, drama and testimony by your young people.
- Participate in a short-term mission trip. More to say on this at a later date. Try to leave a lasting legacy.
- Partner with other youth groups to scale up a project.
Please contribute your own thoughts and experience in the comments section and be part of the solution.
The future of youth ministry – consumers or servants
Pick up your towel – servant leadership
What is Christian youth work?
Every week I plan to add more youth ministry resources and reflections on youth ministry and leadership. May I encourage you to subscribe to INSIGHT and you won't miss a thing. It will also encourage me to keep writing.