Ever since I first stepped into my role, I have been blessed with my leadership team in Student Ministries. The three existing leaders were great – they taught me all about our group, and helped me get acclimated to our ministry here at Calvary. Over the last year we've added a more fantastic leaders who have helped to run games and serve as small group leaders, and who live out their faith alongside our youth.
Unfortunately we've had to say goodbye to a few – one moved away, and two others just welcomed a new addition to their family. And while saying goodbye may seem like a bad thing, I am excited for where God is taking them and about whom God is going to bring in to fill the gap.
You may be reading this and thinking, “Youth ministry is great, but I'm too old.”
Or too young, or too inexperienced, or I don’t know enough about the Bible to teach it…
If that's you, I want to stop you right there, and tell you that none of your objections are what youth ministry is about.
- You're never too old to serve our youth, because our students need to see people 40+ living for the LORD.
- You're never too young to serve our youth (unless you are a youth). Our students look to people in their 20s and 30s as examples of how to live out your faith once you’re no longer a student.
- You'll never have enough experience to serve in youth ministry because it’s an ever-evolving field. Experience is not required to be a leader; you just need a passion for youth and a desire for them to see Christ. The experience will come as you serve.
- Being able to teach the Bible is not a requirement to be a leader. You are a Christ-following role model for our youth and you have something to offer, no matter what your level of knowledge. But if you're really concerned about a lack of Bible knowledge, this is a great time to pick up your Bible and read it.
Here’s the pitch: Our Student Ministries needs another female leader. We have a lot of girls in our group, and I'm looking for someone to serve who has a heart for God and cares about the next generation of believers.
Youth ministry is hard, don't get me wrong, but oh man is it rewarding! There are some nights you’ll leave here thinking, “What are we doing here?"
Believe me, you will.
But then you will have a night where something great happens. A kid quotes Scripture or tells you about a book of the Bible they've been reading, or you have a bit of advice or knowledge you can pass along that you didn't realize would help a student. It is so rewarding.
If you attend the church and you want to have an impact on the spiritual lives of our students, please send me an email, find me at church on Sunday, or give me a call. Let’s talk about our awesome students and how you can get involved in serving.
Youth Director, Calvary Burlington
“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Mt. 5:13-16)
There are times in youth ministry where you “hang your hat”. When times are tough, you look to those moments, where you've hung your hat, and remember that what you're doing is good and important. Well, I am not in a slump right now, but I had one of those “hang your hat” moments at SnoCamp this year.
Spiritual temperature can be hard to gauge in youth ministry. Students don't always give you insight into their walk, and so, as youth ministry leaders, we try to gauge the spiritual health of our group in different ways. This was a big question for our ministry last fall, trying to gain some insight into the spiritual lives of our students. One of the things that came from that conversation was the desire to see our kids in God's Word. So, at the start of the year I challenged our kids to make 2019 the year they get to know God better. And to do that, I asked them to pick a book of the Bible, read it start to finish, then answer three questions:
- What does this book teach me about God?
- What does this book teach me about His plan?
- What do I do with it?
Once they completed their reading, and these questions, we'd go our for a coffee, or a snack, and discuss the book they just read. Well, if any of you have students, you know it can be hard to get them to do anything that involves reading. So, since I issued this challenge back at the start of January, I've been out with one of our students, and am in talks to grab a coffee with another, but it's been hard to gauge how the challenge is going. That is, until SnoCamp, one of those moments that I'm gonna “hang my hat” on.
We were sitting down on the Saturday night, after session, in our small groups. Saturday night is always the big message. That's your Gospel presentation, sometimes with altar call. It's a longer message, longer worship time, and it really works to create an atmosphere where teens can really engage with God. So during our small group time we were discussing the questions for that session, and out of that conversation I started to hear our students talk in a way I hadn't before. Simple phrases, but huge encouragement for me, and huge insight into their walk.
“I was reading in (insert book of the Bible here) that it says ...”
Maybe that doesn't seem like a lot to you, but wow did my heart start pumping! Actual audible proof that our students are reading the Bible! And it wasn't just one, I would hear this multiple times over the course of that weekend. It's a small thing, but it showed me that our students are getting to know God better, and you gotta smile at that, and I'm going to be hanging my hat on those moments. God is at work, and it's a privilege to be along for the ride.
When you see our students on Sunday, encourage them, and ask them what book they chose for the challenge. And if they don't have an answer, maybe recommend a book to them. What's your favourite book from the Bible? Which book taught you about God and his plan? Encourage our students to be in God's word. Or, if this is something you struggle with, then I challenge you to join our Student Ministries. Pick a book of the Bible, and answer the three questions above. I'd love to have a conversation about the book you read.
As always, thank you for the opportunity to serve our church in this way.
Mike Sanders, Youth Director at Calvary Baptist Church
Have you ever read the Sermon on the Mount? Just flipped open your Bible to Matthew 5-7 and read it start to finish in one sitting? Did you walk away from that sermon feeling overwhelmed, maybe scared, or confused? I know the first time I read it, I thought it was hard.
I wonder what it would have been like for the original audience. As people coming at this sermon so far in the future, and knowing the end of the story, I think it's hard to place ourselves in the crowd, what they would have taken from Jesus' sermon, what they would have thought about what he had to say. But even with the perspective we have now, I think it's still a hard sermon to just read once and understand fully.
In this sermon, Jesus makes statements such as;
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (5:17-20)
“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (6:34)
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. (7:7)
These verses, taken out of context, and given a quick read, may leave you confused, intimidated, or even scared, which is why context is always important when we're reading scripture. I like to tell our students that we are 2000 years too late to this conversation to glaze over it once and fully grasp it. The Bible requires, and deserves, more attention than that.
Well, a lot of this makes a whole lot more sense if we go back to the beginning. The Sermon on the Mount is Jesus' first big public sermon. He has only called four of his twelve disciples by this time, and he's sitting them down to teach them about the kingdom of heaven. His first comment about it? Matthew 5:3 records it like this, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Or, as the NLT translates it, “Blessed are those who realize their need for him...”.
Right off the bat, Jesus says, Look, the kingdom is not for people who boast in themselves. The kingdom is for those who realize they need him, that they can't do this on their own.
We come before God, spiritually impoverished. We have nothing to offer and we come before Him as beggars in need of grace. When we view Jesus' sermon through this lens, it brings a lot of light to what he's saying. And for the past eight weeks in Student Ministries, we've been looking at Jesus' first big public sermon through this lens. It's an important lesson, because when we come across a teaching by Jesus, and we find it difficult, or maybe even impossible to understand, it's because we're trying to do it on our own strength, when Jesus has called us, from the very beginning of His ministry, to rely on him, and not ourselves.
I hope this encourages you this week, church.
Mike Sanders, Director of Student Ministries
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