There is a different kind of youth ministry lurking behind the typical, traditional approach. For many youth leaders it is hovering in the shadows, whispering dares in their ears and beckoning them to something deeper and something wider. It is the same type of youth ministry that Jesus employed with his disciples, equal parts grit and pain. And it is always dangerous.
But the rewards that come with this breed and brand of youth ministry are astronomical. You see the rewards in the book of Acts when Jesus ascends into heavens and, ten days later, his Holy Spirit empowered youth group unleashes an awakening of Biblical proportions. You witness it when the Apostle Paul writes back to the church at Thessalonica, "And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. The Lord's message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaiaâ€”your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it...." (1 Thessalonians 1:7,8.) And this after only three weeks of intensive ministry among them!
What does this type of youth ministry look like? It is dangerous and exciting. Jesus told his disciples in Matthew 10:21-25, "Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. I tell you the truth, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes. A student is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the student to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebub, how much more the members of his household!"
Sounds like "fun."
Paul talks about the personal toll this caliber of minsitry has upon the spiritual leader who is investing his/her life in others in 1 Thessalonians 2:6-12, "As apostles of Christ we could have been a burden to you, but we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children. We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us. Surely you remember, brothers, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you. You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed. For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory."
Hard work, toil, hardship...these are the pathway to transformation when it comes to youth ministry, to all ministry. Why? Because making disciples who make disciples is the manual labor of the Christian faith. The blessed ministry leaders who are willing to lift a finger to grunt, strain and sweat to make disciples who make disciples. Why do so few leaders go the whole way down this path of multiplication? Because it is much easier to make a Wednesday night program or youth ministry lesson plan than reproduce spiritual producers who reproduce. One takes a time investment, but the other takes a life investment.
Those blessed ones who are willing to do the hard work will be rewarded beyond their wildest dreams. What will their rewards be? Not just hearing "well done!" and not just crowns to wear in the next world forever. Their reward will be a different kind of crown that will make them eternally grateful for in the presence of our Lord Jesus. Listen, once again, to the words of the apostle Paul about the crown that motivated him to perservere through the dangerous brand of ministry he had chosen, "For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? Indeed, you are our glory and joy." 1 Thessalonians 1:19,20.
That is why I'm grateful to be a part of Dare 2 Share. As part of my job I get to encounter eager youth leaders who are hungry for a deeper, more transformational kind of youth ministry. I see it in their eyes and hear it in their voices. They want to do more than go through the motions of ministry. They want to pay the price of making disciples who make disicples. I believe that God is raising up a new breed of youth leader who wants to wear the crown of transformed lives someday and are willing to pay the price today.
Are you one of these youth leaders? If so I challenge you to join THE Cause and share with us your struggles and strategies. Together we can learn, grow and, through the power of the Holy Spirit, unleash an awakening of Biblical proprotions.
Now that's rewarding!