Today I was having a conversation with a fellow youth pastor. In fact, this guy is what we call in Youth Ministry a “Lifer.” He’s a veteran in Youth Ministry with no intention of “moving up the ladder.” He realizes, as I do, that Youth Ministry is the top rung.
As we were talking the inevitable topic came into the conversation with anyone who is a veteran in YM: What is the target? As my friend aptly stated, “we don’t want to be the ministry that shoots the arrow and then draws the target around it.”
Much has been discussed on the topic of retention of students in the Church as they transition from high school through college. All sorts of stats and percentages are thrown around. And while the stats are good to know and should drive us to ask hard questions, I believe there is really only one question that needs to be answered in this discussion.
It’s a very simple question, yet it has profound implications for Youth Ministry, Youth Pastors, parents, and students alike. The question is: What are the forces to be leveraged that will produce ownership and perseverance in the spiritual lives of students? And until that question is answered and the conclusions are acted upon nothing is going to change. Here’s the hard part…the answer is going to be somewhat different in every environment.
Ownership and perseverance in the Christian life doesn’t happen arbitrarily, neither does the creation of relationships and environments that sustain them. What are you doing that is stimulating ownership and perseverance in the spiritual lives of students?