Awhile back I wrote post where I explained that the most important part of student ministry is student pastor or student ministry volunteer’s own relationship with God. Everything we do in student ministry is second to our relationship with God. The most important thing a student pastor or volunteer can do is make sure their own relationship with God is healthy.
A few weeks ago we did a training day for all of our student ministry volunteers across all of our campuses. In my session on being faithful to God, I said, “The effectiveness of your ministry to students depends on the health of your relationship with God.” I believe that in order for student pastors and volunteers to be effective in student ministry they must have a growing healthy relationship with God. In his book Your First Two Years in Youth Ministry, Doug Fields says, “Without spiritual health, you won’t make it in student ministry. Don’t misunderstand: you don’t need the knowledge of a Bible scholar or the spiritual disciplines of a monk, but you do need a heart that’s tender toward God and open to His leading. You need to be in love with Jesus.”
So how can a student pastor or volunteer make sure they maintain a healthy relationship with God? In the busyness of life and ministry what can we do to make sure we are growing and walking with our Savior? Here are three things I believe every student pastor and volunteer must do in order to maintain a healthy relationship with God while doing student ministry.
1. Love Christ Supremely. Many times our relationship with God starts to become unhealthy because we love ministry more than Him. We believe we have a healthy relationship with God because we are serving faithfully in student ministry and giving all our time and energy to ministering to students. However, when student ministry starts to become the thing that you love most and all your time, energy, and passion goes towards it than it’s probably an idol. It’s coming before God and starting to take the place of Him. We must always keep our love and passion for Jesus first. It must come before everything, including student ministry. Doug Field says, “Don’t allow increasing ministry to decrease your intimacy, and don’t let your service exceed your worship.” The best thing you can do for your students and ministry is to love Jesus more than both of them.
2. Spend time with God daily in His Word and prayer. The second thing we must do to maintain a healthy relationship with God in student ministry is committing to daily Bible reading and time in prayer. These are two spiritual disciplines we cannot afford to live and serve without. I’m always amazed at how many student pastors and volunteers neglect having a personal time with God on a daily basis. In order to be consistent in these two disciplines you will need to find two things. First, you need a good place. Set aside a consistent time and place where you can read God’s Word and pray. This may be in the morning, it may be at lunch, or may be at night. Find the time and place that works best for you. Second, you need a good tool. I encourage our volunteers to use an ESV Study Bible and Word of Life’s Online Quiet Time. Get what you need to make spending time with God each day a priority (click here to read more about having a consistent time with God each day).
3. Be a part of the local church community. Lastly, student pastors and volunteers must be a part of the community of their local church. I encourage my volunteers to be faithful to three things regarding community. First, they need to be faithful to weekend worship services. I talked to one volunteer from another church who hasn’t sat in a worship service for over 3 years! Serving in the student ministry was always taking the place of being in a worship serve. Second, they need to be a part of a community group. If your church does Sunday school, than they need to be in a class. Whatever your church does to provide deeper community outside worship services, volunteers, and student pastors, need to be a part of it. Third, they need to have accountability. These are three things student pastors and volunteers must commit to in order to maintain a healthy relationship with God in student ministry. What are some other ways you stay healthy spiritually as you serve in student ministry?