What A Great Reminder

I read a great reminder that I am not alone in my methodology of ministry.  The reminder came from Mark Howard, who is a youth director in Convinton, GA (he was featured on TGC).

I am in my sixth month here at PHPC.  SIX MONTHS.  Wow.  This has had a lot of highs and lows, days of joy and days of angst.  What has gotten me through this transition?  A few things:

1. God/Gospel belief.  You knew this had to be one of the things that sustains me (and all ministry for that matter).  Do I believe that the Gospel can change the hearts and minds of our church and our youth in particular?  You bet.  Do I believe that the Gospel is revealed in new ways every day, and that God’s grace and sovereign faithfulness convicts me of my total dependence on him?  Oh yes.

2. My support.  This includes my wife, my pastor, and my church.  They have surrounded me in love, trust, and encouragement. They have allowed me to try things that have failed, and encouraged me no matter the outcome.  I could go on and on about how each of the three support groups have sustained me, but I must go on…

3. My changing heart.  What does this mean?  Well, it means that I have started to develop relationships with students, and reached the point where I deeply care for their spiritual, emotional, and physical well-being.  My heart breaks for them when things go wrong in their lives, and I want desperately to show them the love of Jesus, the power of the Gospel to heal, and the beauty of being a part of a covenant community.  This was a change from working with college students, and I saw the need right away.  I thank God for my continually changing heart.

4. My Philosophy of Ministry.  The best advice I received in seminary was, HAVE A PHILOSOPHY OF MINISTRY.  Why?  Because it gives the reasons for why you are doing what you do.  So I have a POM for my ministry at PHPC.  In fact, it is readily available with just an email or a phone call.  And if you were to read my POM, you might come away with: This guy is pretty boring.  Why would someone say that?  Because my ministry is based on faithful preaching and teaching from the word of God.  Scripture is our guide, so we study it, and try to apply it to our lives.  BUT, despite what having a POM might say about me, I do love to have fun.  In fact, one of my (stolen) slogans for youth ministry is: Work Hard, Play Hard.  I want to study the Bible with the students, and I want them to work hard in understanding what truth it says.  I also want them to love being around each other and having fun.

Why did I post this?  Because I have seen what “glamorous” youth ministries look like.  They are “FUN 24/7.”  And they die out when tragedy hits.  But that is not me. I am a pastor, who is called to shepherd a flock and love them well.  And one day, our students will realize (most of them already have) that their lives will not be “FUN 24/7” if they are Christians.  In fact, their lives are going to be full of problems, pain, and suffering.  How can they know what the Bible says about that if they are not exposed to the means of grace?  How can they trust that they can come talk to their pastor about their problems if I spread a message that says, “Your life will always be great with Jesus?”  Students are too smart for that.

I hope that parents and students will love the “work hard, play hard” slogan.  I hope that they will come on Wednesday nights and Sunday mornings looking forward to the time spent together eating and laughing, but also seeing how the Gospel gives them hope in the midst of their daily life.

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