The Lightning Bolt to My Brain: Informal, Organic Ministry

19 07 2010

I’ve been working in youth ministry full-time for just over two years now, and according to all the research I’ve ever read, this is a dangerous quitting point for the majority of people in youth ministry. Why? No one can put a finger on it and figure it out completely….it’s apparently just the average shelf-life of a youth worker.

Two years in.

Am I in danger of quitting?

Nope.

I spent the majority of my weekend with students, carting several of them to Six Flags with a few other leaders and taking them on an all-day excursion to area thrift stores. I think most people would balk at that. But I can’t think of a better weekend, honestly.

In college, I was trained in all the ideals of ministry–how to lead, pray with, counsel, and set an example to kids. I was even trained in how to appropriately hug students–the “side hug”, initiated only by students.

My college training was invaluable. But in the two years since I graduated from that formal setting, I’ve seen a different side of things.

A more organic, informal side of ministry.

Quite simply, I’m seeing the value of just inviting these kids into my daily life. And coaching other leaders to do the same.

It’s making all the difference in the world as to how I really do ministry, I think, by allowing people to just see the Holy Spirit working in my life, without me getting in the way.

One of my friends recommended for me to read the book “mY Generation” by Josh James Riebock. I’m currently halfway through, and felt that figurative lightning bolt to the brain as I read these words:

“I thought about how our world often only pushes people out, about how rare it is to be invited into someone else’s life, and about how I often feel like the only people that invite me into their lives are those on television–some late night talk show host or weatherman. I thought about that feeling I sometimes get that I don’t know some of my closest friends from Adam, anything about them, what they’re thinking, what they like or why they like it–that feeling that they won’t let me in.

I realized that, maybe, the greatest thing I can do for someone is not try to convince them that I can be trusted or that Glorious God is who they hope for, but maybe the greatest thing I can do for someone is to invite them into my life to see Glorious God in me and let them decide those things for themselves. I realized that, maybe, the greatest thing I can offer someone is what Glorious God…offers to me–an invitation in.”

Unintentionally, I’ve already started to do this in my own life, with my students:

Letting them see me outside of my formal 9-to-5 role as their youth leader.

Allowing them to pick my brain, read what I’m reading, think about what I’m pondering, feel my frustrations and joys.

Giving them a glimpse of the real me, as I pick through old clothes and ratty tennis shoes at the local Goodwill stores.

After all…I doubt that the disciples’ lives were changed more by the meaningful stories and lessons that Jesus taught them more than they were changed by actually being with Jesus–seeing His absolute holiness and power seeping out from every pore.

And hey, if Jesus did it…

Just sayin’.

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