As your student ministry grows your going to be faced with a popular temptation among student ministries. Do we default to entertaining our students or see our job as equipping our students to live for God outside our student ministry? In many student ministries, big and small, student pastors have stopped challenging their students to do great things and have defaulted to just entertaining them when they are inside their youth room. So what happens is we have Christian students that come to youth group, soak up Bible knowledge and sing some worship songs, but leave with no challenge to do something better than just come back next week.
Don’t get me wrong, I believe our student gatherings, whether you do them during the week or on weekends, should be the front door of our ministries. They should be the big event that students and their friends love to come to. Because of this, we should have a standard of excellence in our programing, music, and teaching. It should be the thing that gets students plugged into our ministry and excited about what God is doing. But many times we stop there. We tend to think that when students start coming faithfully each week, seem to grasp our teaching, and engage in worship than we have hit the mark. But in reality that is just the beginning. So what’s the next step? I suggest that we need to start challenging our students to do greater things.
Many times students are looked at as the “next generation” rather than the church of now. A lot of times that is our faults because we have such low expectations of them. Maybe the reason our students are not doing anything greater than coming to our gatherings is because we don’t challenge them to do anything greater. As student pastors and youth workers let’s raise the bar and expect greater things out of students. Let’s give them opportunities to stretch their faith and do something that might be hard for them. I don’t know what that is for you, but I want to share with you what we have challenged our students to do and what we are expecting out of them.
During this Christmas season we are doing something with our students, across all four campuses, called the “Rahab Christmas Challenge.” Rahab is a ministry based out of Akron, OH that rescues women from prostitution and shares with them the life changing truth of the Gospel. One of the things this ministry would benefit greatly from is a 15 passenger van. This van would help them remove more women from their dark situation and bring them to a safe place so they can minister to them. We shared this vision with our students (with this video) and have asked them to raise enough money to purchase a van for this ministry. Through giving up a Christmas gift, fundraising, or giving their own money, we have asked students to make this happen. We have challenged them and believe they will respond!
What could you do to challenge your students to do something bigger than just show up and fill up a seat in your youth group? In his book Raising the Bar, Alvin Reid says, “The church-ministry in general, youth ministry, parents-has the opportunity to se a new standard for young people, to encourage their involvement in the Christian movement.” It’s more than just giving money, it’s challenging our students to live out their faith outside the walls of our student ministry.