Definition of Insanity

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.

4 thoughts on “Definition of Insanity

  • July 2, 2006 at 2:07 PM

    It’s really important that you remember that it’s not about results, it’s about obediance. Your call is to obey God, not to win the town to Christ. If God wants to do that, awesome, but there is a chance he wants. There is a chance he is purposefully causing your youth group to dwindle.

    Think about what sort of blog Isaiah would have written. "I’m doing everything I can to reach out to these people, but they just keep trying to kill me."
    The only thing he did was persevere.

    Press on.

  • July 2, 2006 at 10:36 PM

    But persevere at doing the same thing that has been done for the past 20 years? I am not worried about the results, I am worried that everything I am doing I can do. I want to be involved in things that only God can do. I want to be more than just going through the same motions again and again. I want to be beyond the edge where my only hope is the strength of God. That is where real change happens; that is where real worship happens; that is where real life begins and I want to be there.

  • July 3, 2006 at 10:42 PM

    I think this will be more connected to your desire to stop
    (or at least de-emphasize) the "come and see" part of ministry to more of a "go and tell."

    I have a friend in Oregon who tried different programs for the college ministry he recently started leading. They all seem to tank. His new program is "no program." I believe they do get together once a week for prayer, maybe worship music and a word. Beyond that, he left it up to the students, challenging them to seek out what God might will and then helping them do that.

    Student: "We should have a girl’s Bible study or we should do community service project."
    Him: "You should do it. You’ll need to do this, this, and this."

  • July 5, 2006 at 5:04 PM

    Just a thought Shane, from a person that knows your distinct personality maybe a little better than some. For some Christians, being ‘out there on the edge’ truly IS where life change is for them, that’s where they need to be, it’s against their nature and they would be totally reliant upon God for their success at that point. For them that would be a mission trip, witnessing, participating in a church drama, learning a musical instrument, or having lunch with middle-schoolers every week.

    For you however, I don’t know that that’s true. You’ve always been ‘out there on the edge’, compared to most other people. It’s your personality to be so. Doing another drama a different ‘way’ or finding a new ‘method’ to witnessing I don’t think is going to stretch you to the point that you are looking for. I think for you to truly stretch yourself and go against your own proclivities, that would look something like a 9-5 40-hour work week, a desk job, managerial tasks, etc. That would stress you and stretch you more than anything I can think of. It’s ‘against your grain.’

    I may be way off base, and I may be hitting so close to home that it hurts, I don’t know, and I’m not suggesting that you quit your vocational ministry and go apply at the local real estate office, I’m just saying that you may want to really evaluate what exactly would be a true ‘stretch’ for you, personally. You might be surprised at what comes up.

    For what it’s worth, this isn’t something that only you are dealing with. Most people switch vocations multiple times in their lives…not just jobs, but vocations. We get older, we learn more things, our ideals and priorities change…we grow up. It doesn’t happen instantly at age 18 or 22 when we are forced to get jobs, it’s a never-ending process.


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