Just coming off our Parish’s Core Team retreat and with the kick-off of the academic year, I thought it pertinent to reflect on some of the beautiful things revealed to us in ministry. I have been spending some time with a book called “Jesus-Centered Youth Ministry” edited by Rick Lawrence. In it he addresses one of the startling realities of Youth Ministry in America.
In some ways, we’ve become so concerned with our work, calendars and scheduling, clever programming, and engaging events that attract our teens to the Youth Ministry, that we’ve left no place for Jesus. What the book actually reveals is that there is a “Jesus-shaped hole” in Youth Ministry. And for our Core Team over the past two years, I have really tried to dig souls into the realities of Jesus Christ, true God and True Man.
I think there is an easy temptation to fall into this trap. We measure our success in ministry by the numbers of teens showing up. We want our teens to know Jesus and so we want to attract them to joining the ministry, getting involved in the Liturgy, and so on—so we do everything to make it fun, entertaining, and cool. But it’s important to remember above all, as Disciples of Christ, that we are called to walk in the Spirit as we follow after Him. We are not asked to make Jesus cool, we are asked to live in His example and share in His love and service.
I’m reminded of something that Jon Foreman, lead singer of Switchfoot, once wrote:
“Christ will never be cool. Terrifying, life-changing, shocking, iconoclastic; but never cool. The Gospel will always be relevant but never trendy.”
So as leaders in Core Team, as Youth Ministers, in any capacity of servant-leadership in the church, we need to be above all attentive to the heart of Jesus. If the Spirit dwells within us, people will be attracted to that Spirit. And that is all that matters. The more time we spend with Jesus, the more we’ll love Him, the more we’ll want to be of service, the more we’ll become like him, the more we’ll become like ourselves. This is what it means to be a Eucharistic community, and this is what it means to share the Gospel.
Peace be with you!