"There's been another school shooting" is a phrase I hope I never get used to hearing. Every time I hear it I get a sinking feeling in my stomach that takes me back 19 years ago. Sadly, I had that sinking feeling again this morning when I heard the news about the shooting at Santa Fe High School in Texas.
I have met far too many youth leaders who have been fired. Some of them have been let go for legit reasons. Others have been fired because they were doing God's work in God's way and it created a ripple effect that not everyone liked. I even wrote a book called Firing Jesus that was inspired by the firing of a youth leader who was advancing the Gospel by reaching "those kids." The pastor didn't like it and he lost his job as a result.
Over the last several months I had the privilege of traveling with Youth Pastor Summit to five cities to inspire and equip youth leaders. We traveled to New York, Orlando, Dallas, Orange County and Nashville.
Over the years I have had the privilege of knowing, working with and serving under some great Christian leaders. These leaders were not always the flashiest but they all carried a certain gravitas that everyone could sense.
It was this unmistakable aura that drew me in and made me reflect and dissect just what made these particular leaders so distinctive and effective. After years of watching, listening and reflecting I think I've narrowed their greatness down to a handful of very specific characteristics.
The biggest discipleship lie in youth ministry is that discipleship should be separated from evangelism.
1. Find a prayer "hot spot" and use it.
“But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” Luke 5:16
Over the last twenty five plus years I have had the privilege of training well over a million teenagers to share the Gospel with their peers. I would guess that at least tens of thousands of these teenagers were homeschooled.
It's been interesting to watch the "evolution" of homeschoolers over the years (don't worry homeschoolers I'm a creationist!) :) They have moved from underground to mainstream, from almost Amish in how they were perceived to having the reputation of being smart, sharp and, yes, even stylish!
As I travel I have discovered that homeschooled teenagers tend to be some of the most articulate, well-reasoned young people out there. But, sadly, I have also discovered that many of them are not actively sharing their faith.
One homeschool mother of teenagers told me this at one of our Dare 2 Share conferences, "A homeschooler that doesn't share their faith is like a Ferrari that you never take out of the garage."
According to the latest Barna report 51% of church goers do not know what the "The Great Commission" is. Take that in for a moment, the average "Christian" doesn't know the last and lasting mandate that Christ gave to go and make disciples of everyone everywhere.
This Saturday there will be hundreds of teen-led marches held in cities across the nation with one especially large one that will head right down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington DC. Hundreds of thousands of teenagers will be marching against gun violence and for keeping schools safe.
A few years ago, when I was with my family in Europe, we were on a train ride from Venice to Alessandria, Italy, It was on that train I got into a very interesting conversation with a fashion executive from Milan.