One Size Doesn’t Fit All
It’s the end of the big, fall kick off season. You tried a popular activity or event that you read all about, and let’s just say…it didn’t go exactly as planned. You start asking yourself, “What did I do wrong?” You read back over the event instructions only to discover that you did exactly what you were supposed to do, but you came up with vastly different results. Let’s be honest, we have all been here at some point.
“I’ve learned that one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to reaching and discipling students.”
I’ve worked in a lot of different ministry contexts, and I’ve learned that one size just doesn’t fit all when it comes to reaching and discipling students. Different audiences of students require different teaching methods. A flawless event or activity at one church might be a complete disaster and failure at another. Thankfully, God has equipped us with the gifts and skills to reach the students he has given us. I can’t tell you what will work in every ministry, but I would like to share tips that may lead you to greater success in customizing your youth ministry.
Maybe you’re like me, and you’ve found that prayer is something you can easily forget or overlook. But before making any decision about our ministries we should pray for wisdom and understanding and have an open heart to hear what God is trying to tell us. Seek after ways you can best reach out to students and run a ministry that glorifies the Lord! Scripture reminds us to never stop praying.
Romans 12:12, Philippians 4:6, I Thessalonians 5:17, & James 5:13-18
2. Know Your Area
Know your culture and your community, and work to understand the needs of students in your area. Then you will have a better idea about what you can do to reach out to them. Just like the apostle Paul, look for ways to understand the culture and adjust your teaching to respond to the issues of the area.
1 Corinthians 9:19-23, 1 Corinthians 10:23-33
3. Love Unconditionally
It should go without saying, but we need to love our students unconditionally. Yes, even the really annoying or bratty one. Oftentimes, those are the ones who need the most love. We also need to love their parents—the ones that are a big support AND those ones that are creating more problems in the church. Plain and simple, it’s what we’re called to do.
1 Corinthians 13
4. Use the Gifts that God Gave You
Use your God-given gifts and your unique wiring to serve in the ministry. Every youth worker and volunteer has different gifts and insights to reach out to students. I remember having adult leaders who did a much better job than I did at hitting certain demographics of students, and that’s a great and beautiful thing. God knows what you’re good at and what you’re not; it’s better to trust him rather than trying to copy or mimic someone else.
Psalms 139:13-16, 1 Corinthians 12:1-11
5. Don’t Lose the Gospel!!!
Whenever you make any changes or adjustments to teaching or programming, don’t lose sight of the Gospel. Don’t, for example, play so many games that you forget to say anything about the good news. And don’t neglect to mention the name of Jesus because you’re too focused on confronting cultural issues. Be sure to proclaim Christ both in what you say and in how you live.
No doubt, there is a strong temptation to use one-size-fits-all methods and strategies for ministry, but our experience tells us that customization, although time-consuming, is more effective. As you continue in the ministry year, take opportunities to pray often and discover more about the needs of your community. Ask the Lord for the strength to love unconditionally and the wisdom to use the gifts he has given you to preach the gospel. And patiently wait for the Lord to bear fruit in your ministry.