Over the last few days and weeks, I've debated on what I should write, how I should write it, and if I should share it. Today the culmination of those answers come to fruition in a blog titled, "What I Want/What God Wants." Every church and ministry comes with its own set of problems, culture, dynamics which in turn makes each congregation unique. Every youth group is uniquely different based up on the students and families that are involved (or not that involved). So, what I want to share with you is what I would like to see in a Youth Ministry (no matter where I'm located) and the compare it to what God wants to see in us.
I want a Youth Ministry that:
- loves God more than anything else.
- puts God first in their lives.
- looks to serve their community at every opportunity.
- is full of imperfect people that share their lives together.
- wants to spend as much time with each other as much as possible.
- isn't full of excuses.
- chooses church over anything else going on in their lives.
- families are involved and providing a foundation for their kids.
- is a supplement to what is being taught at home.
- is free of judgment (because we are all sinners).
- supports one another including the things they enjoy doing.
- when others hear our name they know we are a beacon of light in the community.
- isn't ashamed to bring their friends to church.
- isn't ashamed of their faith.
- isn't ashamed of Jesus Christ and the greatest life there is.
- wants to share God with their friends.
- looks out for each other.
- is disappointed when they do miss church or youth group activities.
- is seeking to grow everyday by seeking after God.
- wants to learn more about God's word.
- actively participates in spiritual discussions.
- carries their sword around with them (especially to bible study).
- is encouraged by others in the youth group to do the right thing.
- encourages one another and loves each other.
- truly misses someone when they are missing and will reach out to them.
- Parents make sure their kids have every opportunity to be a part of the ministry for their own growth.
- is excited about what we are doing and to share that excitement with others.
- is a safe environment for our students to share what is on their hearts.
- is a FAMILY!
God wants people that:
- place Him above all else.
- are seeking after Him (Matt. 6:33).
- love one another (John 13:34-35).
- never miss an opportunity to be with God's people (Heb. 10:25).
- support each other, encourage one another, and lift each other up (I Thess. 5:11).
- rejoice with one another (Rom. 12:15).
- weep with one another (Rom. 12:15).
- live in harmony with one another (Rom. 12:16).
- are imperfect and will share their lives together (James 5:16)
- will serve their community (Matt. 5:16; Gal. 6:10)
- enjoy being together. (Acts 2:44, 46)
- pray together. (Acts 4:23-31)
- look after each other. (Acts 2:45; 4:32-37)
- is devoted. To God and to their spiritual lives. (Acts 2:42)
- share the same heart and mind. (Acts 4:32)
- worships God together with ONE voice (Rom. 15:5-6)
- are broken but willing to be brought together by God for something beautiful (I Cor. 6:9-11)
- live UNASHAMED lives (Rom. 1:16)
- wants to share the gospel with their friends, family, neighbors, and the world (Matt. 28:19; Mark 16:15)
- understands we are sinners and often fall short (Rom. 3:23)
- want to have their sins forgiven by being washed in baptism (1 Pet. 3:21; Rom. 6:1-4; Acts 2:37-38)
- are a part of the body of Christ and doing their part to work for the greater good (I Cor. 12:12-27)
- are a FAMILY! (Gal. 6:10, Eph. 2:19-22; I John 3:1-2; Heb. 10:24-25)
It's not a matter of what I want, what you want, or what anyone wants. The fact of the matter is what does God want and am I being what God wants me to be? Am I giving Him my very best, my all? Am I neglecting Him based on the priorities in my life or does He come first? I recently read a blog titled, "Why I didn't like what Africa taught me." It really hit exactly what has been on my heart about our families and youth of the current generation. The quote that really put things into perspective was when the writer said, "Friends, we are the poor ones. Why? Because we can’t see past material things. We are so materially rich we are spiritually poor." It's true! We have so much in our lives that distracts us from God that we forget to involve Him in our lives. We live in a generation where people schedule events, practices, and everything else on Wednesdays and Sundays when we should be meeting with our family of God. Instead of speaking up and saying that our priority lies with God, we in turn go along with the world when we've been clearly told not to conform with what the world is doing (Rom. 12:2). We allow excuses to get in the way of being spiritually uplifted by worship, bible study, and times we can fellowship with our Christian brothers and sisters. Homework, school, sports, jobs, and everything else you can name takes a priority over what God wants from His people and that is to be involved in our lives.
"Parents tell their children they can participate in sports, band, and other extra curricular activities as long as it doesn't impact their grades in a negative way. But, do parents worry that those activities will impact their kids' spiritual lives negatively?" - Andy White
You may not see it now, but you are damaging the faith of your children and of your self when God does not take priority in your own home. When God is not a priority in the home, that is when we begin to lose our youth and our students after high school graduation. When God is not a priority, that is when it becomes easy to miss services, to miss opportunities to serve, to miss the fellowship, and ultimately to miss out on being a part of an awesome family that God has blessed us with. When God is not a priority, that is when it becomes easy to make excuses. What example are you setting for your family and for others? Homework can wait, sports can wait, extra-curricular activities can wait, things that we choose to place over God can wait... God is waiting on you... Are we going to be the people, family, and youth ministry that God wants us to be? Or will we continue to let excuses and other priorities rule our life?
"I'm disappointed anytime an event/activity is chosen over church, youth group, or a spiritual activity. That's something that will never change." - I have made this statement on occasion and it's still very true. However, I will never stop loving you and never stop challenging us all to be better and to step out on our faith to be what God is calling us to be.
Are you being what God wants you to be? Are you cultivating a youth ministry that God wants? Are you raising a family that God wants? Let's commit to God today!
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Andrew Thompson is the Youth and Family Minister at Rogersville Church of Christ. He is married to the beautiful, Joy Thompson (who is way out of his league!). They enjoy sharing life together, ministering to teens and families, football in Tuscaloosa (Roll Tide!), and musical theatre. Andrew is a proud supporter of sarcasm and dry sense of humors. Thank you for reading!