There is an old adage that says the definition of insanity is doing the same thing the same way and expecting different results. Lately I have been realizing just how insane youth ministry–well more specifically my ministry has become. I was spending time thinking about what we were going to do this fall, and it hit me that this will be the seventh time I have kicked off a fall season at this church, and I have done each of them the same. In fact in the past 10 years I haven’t really tried anything revolutionary when it comes to youth ministry.
Of course I have changed the style of the message. I have tried to do things that were more hip and relevant. I have tried events that were fun, messy, serious, quiet, loud, relationship based, seeker sensitive, discussion driven, sermon driven, student owned, used popular culture, and every other idea I could find from a book. But the basic model hasn’t changed. We are doing something so come.
But what if there was a way to do student ministry differently. Instead of “come to us” we could get out and be where students are and meet their needs. But what are the needs of students? And where can we go where I’m not some weird old guy hanging out with teenagers? How do I convince students to be missionaries on their campuses and go to reach out to their friends when they are no different than any of the people around them? How can we change what is being done?
Part of me thinks I need a change of scenery. I am about tired of the south and people who have heard about Jesus their whole lives and have learned to ignore him. I want to go somewhere that the message of God’s love is still revolutionary instead of something that they heard once or twice, but never really made a difference.
Here is what I do know. My youth group is slowly dwindling. There are reasons for that beyond my own mistakes. (too many people from my church read this to be honest about it here) But I don’t want to just keep trying the same things we have been trying and hope that this time they work. Isn’t that insanity?
I also know that I have such a burden for the teenagers of this city. I have a deep, deep love for them and a desire that they find out that there is more to life than the things that they are chasing, and that there is more to following God than being weighed down by rules. I want so desperately to be able to share with them the freedom that comes from knowing God. But I am all out of ideas on how to do it.