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What my Teacher-Self Wishes My Youth-Minister Self Knew: Unique Opportunity

Oh, Glorious Summer! The opportunity for every youth minister to go on long bus trips with teens (and other chaperones) to conferences, camps, and mission trips while focusing on relational ministry! These trips give youth ministers to chance to schlepp their sleeping bag and favorite youth ministry t-shirts to lands unknown (or at least to a different state).

As a youth minister, I often thought that these trips were golden opportunities just in the sense of the time I had for relational ministry. I often said that the amount of time I had with a teen as a youth minister–maybe a couple of hours a week at Life Teen—if the teen shows up regularly—is nothing compared to the time spent by a teacher in science or math class. However, as a teacher, I want to give all you youth ministers a different perspective about that.

As a youth minister, you have the incredible job and responsibility of talking about faith, about Jesus, about truth, and about prayer in a way that a teacher never can. Seriously, you get paid to talk to teens about Jesus. I know it can seem difficult—teens show up to Life Night who could care less if they were there or not, or the heartbreak of a teen who seems to be all in until they hang out with a different crowd. We can add to the list those teens who get confirmed only because their grandma wants them to be, too. I know it can be so disheartening. (By the way, if you think every teen that shows up to my class wants to be there, think again!)

However, you need to have an optimistic perspective. Each encounter is an opportunity to evangelize. A few years ago at CYMC a sister shared that she was almost jealous of the attendees—that they get to share the good news of Jesus Christ with young people today. I didn’t fully understand what she was saying at the time, but it’s true. We’re all called to be witnesses, but you—as a youth minister— have a special calling.

You are supposed to talk about Jesus with young people. It is expected, and thus you can ask questions and declare the truth in places and in times that most people—most adults in their lives (teachers included) — can’t. Think about it; it would be strange if you only talked to the teens involved in youth ministry about their classes or relationships with parents or athletics and never wound that conversation around to Jesus. In fact, if you didn’t, you’d be fired! Really.

You must fulfill the call God has placed on your life in a bold way. You must engage in relational ministry so that the gospel does not fall on deaf ears. You need to do this at Life Teen and when teens come to you with questions and in crisis: boldly and lovingly proclaim the truth. While we know the soil is all types (Matt 13: 1-8), you must not give up your role as the farmer or gardener (1 Corinthians 3: 5-9). If you do not proclaim the truth to these teens, who will?

So, let go of the pessimism and discouragement of ministry and instead be in awe of what God has called you to. Go do your job like St. Paul or St. John Paul the Great. These teens need to hear the truth, and while many people can speak to them, you MUST speak truth to them. Look forward to your next event—not because of the amazing praise and worship or speakers, but because the Lord has called you to share the Gospel with young people.

St. Aloysius Gonzaga and St. Maria Goretti, pray for us and the teens!

 

Image via FlickrCC 2.0, Logo added 

About the Author

Angela Hamrick

I only first went to youth group in high school because my mother made me. Little did I know that the Lord's plan for my life would be directly related to that one Wednesday evening. I don't eat bananas, seafood, or the white sauce that comes with chips and salsa.