I had lunch this past week with the senior pastor I work with at Parkside Chruch. He’s a man that I don’t really know well, but admire greatly. As we talked and began to understand our backgrounds he mentioned something that startled me. It was the idea of worship and how it is often times shaped by non-believers. In every effort to make elements less “church like” and to remove most if not all identification to why we…or should I say “who” we worship. This is startling.
This notion is extremely hard in realm of student ministries. How does one be relevant and intentional, but still keep the ancient tradition of worship alive to students? There are many facets of thought that can stem from such a question, but please allow me to follow one thread…the “more is better” concept.
There’s this idea that a successful youth ministry has lots of kids, and that media is foundational, and that bigger is better. To be successful is to have the latest technological gear set up in the youth room, to have walls lined up with PS3 or 360’s. To have loud and crazy worships bands. I want to take a step back and remember that word I mentioned earlier…Worship. Is all of this worship? I mean don’t get me wrong those things are great in the context of student ministry, and it’s always good to push for quality…nothing wrong with having those elements in student ministries, but what are we here for? What is our purpose? Are worshiping less if you don’t have those elements in your ministry?
A youth ministry without the constant seeking after Christ is a sinking ship. In fact it’s a waste of time. Why engage in youth ministry is you’re never going to read the bible, pray with them, tell students about this man named Jesus? Sure it’s fun hanging with students, but there’s a deeper purpose to it all. Are we embarrassed of the Creator of the universe?
Getting to my point, why do we go out of way to look like non-believers? Are we afraid of what people will think, are concerned about offending people? When did we start allowing non-believers to shape the way WE WORSHIP??? When was it not okay to talk about Jesus in church? When was it not okay to pour over scripture in church? When was it not okay to pray in church? It’s just a place, but where then I ask? Where are we to freely express who we are in Christ? You think long enough and everywhere could be taken off the list in regards to being offensive…even the local church.
This is my call you…don’t be ashamed. Don’t forsake the Gospel based upon not wanting to offend someone. People are broken and are in need of the love of Jesus Christ. Conviction is a good thing, trust me on this. Don’t allow the enemy stifle your passion for being who you are in Christ. It’s okay…you’ve been made new (Romans 12:2, Eph. 4:24)…now go out there and show it! It’s okay to have huge youth group and it’s okay to have a small group. It doesn’t matter as long as we continue to worship the Living God. It’s time to point that flashlight off of ourselves and gaze it upon the face of our Savior.