Walk with me
Youth Ministry: Depth & Fun
I have been involved in youth ministry for 12 years and have spent the last 6 as a Lead Minister. As a Lead Minister, part of my responsibility is to provide oversight to our Youth Minister. In my six years at this position, I have had the priviledge of working with three different young men. To say that they have all been different is an understatment.
I often hear people talking about and critiquing our ministry or another one. They often use the words depth and fun. It will go something like, “that youth ministry has lots of students but all they do is fun and games, there is no depth”. The other thing I will hear is, “In fact our numbers are down but there is depth to our youth ministry. We are just trying to dig deep with these students.”
My question is why does it have to be depth or fun, why can’t it be both? Leonard Sweet called this approach to learning “edutainment”. I think that our efforts need to focus on discipleship that is engaging and yes, even entertaining.
Here are some ways this can be accomplished.
1. Listen, don't just talk
When I first started off in youth ministry I was insecure (let’s be honest I still am) and so I wanted to show everyone what an amazing communicator I was. I wanted to be the next (insert hot preacher name here). Over time I started to care less about being the next big preacher and more about the students “getting it”. One of the best ways for students to engage and enjoy delving into the Bible is if they can ask questions and interact.
2. Interaction is a must
Interaction is a must! Any time you can pull up a student or get them in groups to do something that reinforces your point, do it. I know you are thinking that this is childish and the students won’t like it. I disagree. Not only is interaction fun but it reinforces the lesson you are trying to communicate. I say do games but they must reinforce the lesson and are not just done for fun sake.
3. Laugh often and mostly at yourself
Please do not take yourself too seriously. Don’t get me wrong, strive for excellence and be a good steward of your resources but remember to laugh often and poke fun at yourself. Nothing is more freeing and invites students to ask tough questions than when they see that their leader will to make a mistake and laugh about it.
4. If you are not having fun digging deep no one will
This is the simplest leadership lesson, LEAD BY EXAMPLE. If students do not see you having fun as you delve deep into the things of God, why would they? Following Jesus is serious business but it should be the most life giving, enjoyable and fun thing we could ever commit our lives to. So live that way!
How do you manage the tension between fun and depth?
We've Just Learned to paint
A young man one day was on his way to visit a friend named John who lived on a farm. He entered the farm and began to meander up the road that led to his friend’s home. He had to pass by a barn and as he got near to it, he stopped, perplexed. He saw something that both mesmerized and stupefied him. On the barn were twenty targets. In the middle of each target was a bull’s-eye, and in the middle of each bull’s-eye was a hole. Someone had used the barn as target practice and however it was, was a crack shot. There were no other holes on the barn except the holes in the bull’s-eyes, centered in the targets. He couldn’t believe it. He started back up the road to the house. When he met up with John at the house, he said, ‘‘before we begin our day together, I’ve just got to ask you, who in the world did the shooting on the barn?’’ John said, ‘‘Well I did.’’ The man looked surprised and said,’ Wait a minute! There are twenty targets, with twenty bullseyes, with twenty holes in each bullseye. You mean to tell me you did that?’’ John said, ‘‘Yep, I made every shot.’’ ‘‘Where in the world…how in the world did you learn to shoot like that?’’ John said, ‘‘It’s simple, I shot first, then I drew a picture of the target around the hole.’’
A lot of us are just like John. Maybe we know the right words to say; maybe we know how to dress up for church on Easter. But it’s not so much that we’ve hit the bull’s-eye, we’ve just learned to paint well. It’s possible to go through the motions and not live a life on target.
You have a choice to make. It’s the most important decision you will ever make. It all comes down to this. This is a moment that changes everything.
You are faced with the reality of the gospel. The perfect and sinless life of Christ, His death for you on the cross, His victorious resurrection and His offer of salvation. You are forced to make a choice. You can see for yourself and respond in repentance and faith, or you can hear the story, choose not to believe, and remain unchanged, unsaved and under judgment.
This changes everything; it is that moment that separates victory from defeat, winning from losing, life from death.
Macrohabits: My Journey
Back in September of 2021, I began a health journey that has changed my life. One of the greatest reasons that I have seen such great success is due to the fact that I have paid careful attention to six key macrohabits of health. I wanted to share what these six foundational areas are and some simple things I do to improve in each of these areas.
Healthy Weight Management: I have lost 35 pounds with a goal of an additional 15 more.
Healthy Eating & Hydration: I drink over 100 0unces of water each day.
Healthy Motion: I log 13,000 steps each day.
Healthy Sleep & Energy Management: I get at least 8 hours of sleep each night.
Healthy Mind: I read the Bible. I listen to podcasts. I read for fun.
Healthy Surroundings: I spend time with like-minded people who share interests and goals. I avoid toxic relationships. I spend a lot of time each day outside.
What are your goals for you and your health? What is one thing that you can do in each of these areas? If you would like to fill out a health assement and connect to explore ways to improve your health, we would love to talk with you. https://form.jotform.com/212525498552158
12 Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. 3 Then Mary took about a pint[a] of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
4 But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, 5 “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” 6 He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.
7 “Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. 8 You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”
John 12:1-8 (NIV)
EXTRAVAGANT WORSHIP IS NEVER ENOUGH, BUT ALWAYS ACCEPTED.
One of my favorite things about my youngest daughter is how proud she is when she creates art. What may appear to be scribbles, shapes and abstract figures is her masterpiece. She will hold the picture up in front of her with pride and back up against the wall striking a predictable pose that says, "Dad, take my picture!"
Her artwork, while it never be hung up in an art museum, is always accepted by her Father. Our worship, as extravagant as it may seem, is never enought, but is always aaccepted our Father. We must give him our best!
This characteristic of extravagant worship is a negative one, but it’s a beautiful fact. Do you realize that Mary’s worship wasn’t enough?
Did she hope to repay Jesus? He’d raised Lazarus from the dead. She also seemed to understand that very soon Jesus would be dying for her. What’s that worth? Could one year’s wages pay for these things? She knew it wasn’t enough. God caused the plants to grow to provide the oil. God had placed the alabaster in the ground. God gave Mary her locks of hair, and she had the financial means to own that oil and the strength to be there that day because the Lord gave it to her. She couldn’t even give anything to Him that He hadn’t given to her in the first place! No matter how extravagant our worship to Jesus is, it will never come close what He deserves.
No matter how creative we are, nothing “wows” the Creator. No matter how much of our energy we pour into worship or how long we use our voices, we’ll wear out, and the praise in heaven never ceases. No matter how much we give what we consider our own, it’s already rightfully God’s. No matter how extravagant our worship, it will never be enough.
Now, Jesus didn’t say that about Mary’s extravagance. She already knew it. It was great, but it wasn’t “enough.” Still, it was her best. And when anyone gives their best, that honors Jesus.
Mary’s worship was accepted by Jesus. He didn’t stop Mary. There was no embarrassed turning away; no worry that what she was doing was inappropriate. There was no indignant look that what she was doing wasn’t good enough. In fact, nowhere do we ever read of Jesus turning away honest, heart-felt worship to Him -- and I’ll bet He saw some pretty different expressions of it!
I also notice this: realizing it wasn’t enough didn’t stop Mary. She still gave her best at the Savior’s feet. Whether her best was good enough or not, it was still what she would give. She understood something I wish we could all get our minds around: He deserved her best.
We should be so deliberate - even though our worship may not seem like much to us or to others. It’s never enough; it will never adequately honor Him. But He always deserves it, and He always accepts it.
Your singing, no matter how finely polished, isn’t perfect like God deserves. Still God deserves the best you can do for Him. The way you play an instrument now can’t approach how well I think you’ll be able to play it in heaven. Still, God is worthy of your very best right now. A poor widow lady knew that her two copper coins didn’t amount to much in the temple treasury, but her act of worship was her best to God, and Jesus praised her for that. Right now, our most extreme acts of worship will never measure up to the glory of heaven, but they’ll always be accepted.
Just like the crayon scribbles made with love by a child bring joy to a parent.
Ryan A. Weaver is the Lead Minister at the Church of Christ at Treaty in Wabash, Indiana where he resides with his wife Kayla and their three children.