This summer has shown me that I can’t stay away from student ministry. I was honored to be the camp pastor at one of our FUGE camps and enjoyed spending time with students from my church family. Tonight Kaye and I are hosting a group of 12th graders from our church because, well, because we just love them and want to spend some time with them before they start their senior year. I first “cut my ministry teeth” in student ministry, and when I served as an executive pastor, I worked directly with our student pastors so I could stay close to the action. And in my role at LifeWay, I work closely with our director of student ministry. I hope always to be connected in some way to student ministry. Here are five reasons I can’t stay away:
1. Students are being molded.
I sat with a small group of sophomore guys this summer and said, “Guys, in the next several years you will make major life decisions that impact your career, whom you marry, the trajectory of your whole life.” One of them responded, “Dang. You are right. That is kind of scary.” So much is happening in the lives of students. Students are in an incredibly important and moldable phase of their lives. What an important time to apply the truth of God to their hearts.
2. Students are changed.
Only the gospel has the power to change the human heart, and students are very receptive to the good news of Jesus. Every time I speak to a group of students (and I feel less and less “relevant” when I do), I am filled with holy anticipation that someone’s heart is going to be transformed by the grace of God. Student ministry is such a joy because of those holy moments when students are raised from death to life, when students understand the good news of Jesus.
3. Students reflect and direct culture.
As Christian leaders, we want to offer the unchanging truth of God in a way that people can understand. One way to get a sense of culture is to love and know students as they simultaneously reflect and direct culture. Large companies spend significant resources targeting students because they know cultural movements often spread through them.
4. Students will be leading soon.
In a few years students in our student ministries will be leading in their workplaces, in their churches, and in their communities. We are responsible to equip them now.
5. Students develop me.
Students make me better. Because students will more quickly move into deep conversations than most adults, the conversations and questions are challenging. Students force us to think and confront us with our own inconsistencies.
If you love Jesus and serve students in any capacity, thank you! If you are a teacher, a small group leader, a coach, a student ministry volunteer, or a student pastor—I believe you are making an eternal investment.