Over the last several days, I’ve been sharing my thoughts on predictable weekend services. You can read my previous articles in the series here:
- Predictable: It Feels Like I Am Attending the Same Worship Service Every Sunday
- Predictable: 9 Reasons Your Church Services Are Stuck in a Rut
- Predictable: 4 Biases to Promote Creativity and Make Services More Engaging
- Predictable: 9 Practical Challenges for Church Leaders
I want to conclude this series with a challenge specifically for youth pastors. That’s right. I’m talking to you.
I’m an old guy now, but I haven’t always been old. Back when I was in my early twenties, I used to be involved in youth ministry. I loved youth ministry, because I really felt like I was on the front lines helping students wrestle with life issues and find new life in Christ.
Of course, student ministry was a lot easier twenty-some years ago. Some of that was because the environment we were creating for students was so unique. Our monthly “Big Events” were filled with relevant teaching, current music, engaging activities and other creative elements. It was very different than what the students might experience on Sunday morning.
We got away with a lot. The old people were never around, so no one ever complained that it wasn’t expository preaching. No one ever complained about the music we chose, and the music was never too loud. There were no traditions to follow, so we never had to worry about offending church people…particularly the ones who gave a lot of money. And, in the process, hundreds of students had the opportunity to hear and respond to the Gospel.
Over the last few decades an interesting transition has taken place in the the church. Those youth pastors ended up planting churches. When they became the senior pastors, they took the strategy they used with students and used it for adults. And it worked. They launched brand new movements that completely transformed the church in America. For many, many people, church became relevant for the first time.
What I find ironic, though, is that today’s youth pastors are oftentimes trying to recreate Sunday services at some other less optimal time of the week. Only now, the teaching, music and the other elements of the student gatherings aren’t typically as good as what the students might experience on Sunday morning.
Rather than competing with Sundays, I think it’s time youth pastors reinvent student ministry all over again. It’s time for you throw out the rule book. Go ahead. I dare you. How could you best reach as many students as possible for Jesus? Don’t just give me the company line based on what your preaching heroes would say. Those guys used to be youth pastors. They were the rule-breakers, and now they’re the old guys.
I really believe there’s an opportunity out there for today’s youth pastors to help us break through the predictability challenge. Create something brand new. Take some risks and fail. In the end, though, I’m praying you help us find a way to reach more students for Jesus and help them experience the abundant life only found in Christ.
That’s the win. Doing something new just to do something new isn’t the win. Doing something new that helps people become fully-devoted followers of Christ is the win. And the more that happens, the better.
Are you ready for that challenge? If so, I’m one old guy who is in your corner hoping you’ll start a new movement that transforms the church in America. Help us eliminate the predictable.