Shrinking The Elephant

God is surely doing something unique in the hearts and lives of our students in Rush Hour and Fusion. But truth be told, there is a wild elephant surrounding our Student Ministries program that needs to be addressed. And that is this, in order for our group to spiritually grow it may first need to shrink.. Yes, you heard me right, in order for our student ministry program to grow it may indeed first need to shrink.

Before I explain why, let me first tell you a quick story.

Back in January of 2008, I was ecstatic about starting my very first role as the lead youth pastor at a small church in the North Metro. I can remember walking into the building and as soon as I saw the thirty plus youth gathered in a large meeting area my thoughts, fears, and emotions immediately resorted back to the first time I stepped into my high school cafeteria. I

Because of this, for the first year of youth ministry career, I spent all my time, energy,  and effort into being the youth pastor my students wanted and liked instead of being the one that they needed and the leader that God called me to be.

A year later, I came across Acts 20:26-27, in which Paul says to the Ephesian church that he planted:

I declare today that I have been faithful. If anyone suffers eternal death, it’s not my fault, for I didn’t shrink from declaring all that God wants you to know.

It pains me to think that a student who was under my direct spiritual leadership in my first year of youth ministry could have suffered eternal punishment because I was more concerned about giving them stuff (ie. games, Mt. Dew, Pizza) so that they would like me instead of giving them the substance of the Gospel.

Needless to say, games, fun, Mt. Dew, and food, especially pizza, is an important and vital part of youth ministry but its not the most important thing. More than wanting our students to be happy and have fun we should want to inspire them and show them how they can be (w)holy dedicated followers of Jesus Christ.

We are not saying that this was not the case before, but now more than ever we as a Student Ministries team see the importance of being a group that is deeply committed to being more about quality (substance) than quantity (just getting kids to show up) especially as it relates to our programming.

In a recent conversation with some of our high school students, one of them mentioned how they noticed that the attendance numbers in Fusion have been less than last year. When asked why, this student said that it was because they believed that many students came in years past for the activities, social interaction, because of certain people, and because some were forced to be there. Interestingly enough though, when this same student was asked how they felt about these smaller attendance numbers, they said “it’s a good thing, because the students who come here, actually want to be here to grow and be challenged."

We want the students who show up to Rush Hour and Fusion to have fun but most importantly we want the ones who show up on Wednesday nights to come for a greater and larger purpose: to grow in their understanding and likeness of Jesus Christ.

The reality is this, that in order for our group to grow numerically it first needs to grow spiritually. In order for their to be evident fruit in our ministry, seeds first need to be planted and they need to be cultivated with deep spiritual roots. Ultimately for our group to be transformative in growth it means that we are a ministry who is determined to not shrink back from declaring the whole Gospel of Jesus Christ to our students. 

Please partner with us in prayer as we strive to seek the Lord’s face for guidance as it relates to making potential changes to the execution of our ministry in upcoming 2016 year. We believe thatGod has already laid a solid foundation in the fabric of Rush Hour and Fusion and we are excited to build off of what has already been accomplished in the upcoming days, weeks, months, and years. 

By His Grace,

T.A. Sotebeer