Case for College/Young Adult Ministry

Many churches invest thousands of dollars in youth and older adult ministries. Larger churches have millions to dedicate to these populations. When you look at the percentage of resources toward college/young adult ministry it’s no wonder that the young adult populations in churches all over the country are struggling. Many students simply don’t see a space for themselves in most churches.

Every church focuses on quality offerings that cater to the adult population. Youth ministry is a no brainer because if you desire to have adults you must have resources for their children. People will stay in churches they don’t enjoy because their children are satisfied. But, college students and young adults don’t often have an immediate appeal to many churches.

The reasons vary, in no particular order college students make less then $13,000 a year and are not a serious tithing base. Also, many young adults are transient in nature and will leave after 3-5 years. The last is they often don’t fit into traditional church environments because they are usually not tied to tradition.

The benefits, I believe, far outweigh the risks. That same student that learns to give from $13K will eventually carry that habit when making $60K, $80K, and $100K plus. Then if you can grab the attention of and sell a compelling vision to a transient young adult, they are more likely to put roots down. One of the most compelling reasons to me is their ability to question and change how we do church. If the church is to continue to go,` we must at least understand and know how to communicate to future generations. College students and young adults are that vital link. If the mean age of your churches population continues to rise, your church has a quickly approaching expiration date.

Quality Time

I recently had the opportunity to have some unscripted time with one of my key leaders. We didn’t talk about ministry or the next big task; we simply did something he enjoyed. I was reminded of why I believe in him, and developed a new level of respect to this amazing young man.

The sad thing is, that used to be the norm for me. It wasn’t strange for me to give countless hours to all my leaders. Life has somehow squeezed so tight, where now it’s become a rare occurrence. This is hard because I value those who work with me. From my student leaders on up these people have enlarged God’s kingdom, and my life over the years. Reality hits when my wife needs her time, and my son is ever looking for daddy, and my 18-year-old nephew requires attention. This leaves less time for those outside of my household.

But, leadership requires us to reach past our very real lives and invest in those we lead. Jesus is our example, My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27 . As a pastor or shepherd I have a responsibility to those following to create an environment where they can know and trust my voice. If I am too busy to speak directly to them, can I blame them for wondering off? 

Dominion

The concept of dominion has always intrigued me. It has its origins in the book of Genesis where God says, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” Genesis 1:28 The dominion mandate was not a suggestion, but the intention of God for his people to make a difference in the world. Sin later entered the world and dominion seemed so far away. Instead of accomplishing God’s desire for us we seem to be more consumed with our desires.

It was always God’s heart for us to impact, touch, and change the world around us. We are not to sit idly by and watch the world go to hell. Dominion does not just happen, we have to go and exist in places where there are things that are opposed to God’s rule. Dominion is less about our rights and more about our responsibility to both God and the world.

My heart immediately ponders the state of many college campuses. Intellectual thought has somehow become the exact opposite of a biblical perspective. Many act as if God is either non-existent or unintelligent, and all the people who represent him are idiots. That is a perspective in which I take offense.

So consider, what steps can you take today to make a difference? Who else is around you can help you impact the lives of others? What fears grip your heart as you consider touching the lives of others? With whom can you connect that will challenge you to do something, for God’s sake? Take a step today to establish dominion. 

Thank God for Leaders

Lately, I have been thinking about the people who have invested in my life in the area of leadership. The list is not short by any means. I am the leader in great part because these people have invested in me. I have read many books on leadership, but there is no substitute to a life modeled out. I use the word invest because when people spend time and money and principles they have no expectation that they will get a return. But, people who have given to me are expecting something in return. I believe based on who I have become I am and have been a good investment.

This is important because for every person who invested in me becoming who God wants me to be, there was someone else who thought I was not worth the investment. There were leaders that I have come across that I wished would speak a word of encouragement or give me even a brief learning. But, I sadly walked away. You have to have eyes of potential to see people before they become who they are to be. I have a sneaky suspicion that there are more emerging leaders out there in need of investment than we could ever imagine.

So depending on which side of the equation you fall will determine your next steps. If you are a leader, look around you to see those who need to know that you believe in them. Who has been trying to get your attention? Who has been on your heart? These are the next potential people who will advance God’s kingdom. If you desire to be leader, whom has God placed around you? How can you serve them best? Ask yourself what you have to offer. Leadership is a journey, and we need to both lead and be led.

Down with OPP

Those who are into hip-hop from the 90's will remember the song, "OPP" from a group called Naughty by Nature. The song was vulgar in its suggestion as the trio's name suggests, but they had thousand yelling their anthem. I have a different approach for the acronym, O-Other P-People's P-Perspective.  As a leader I can be so committed to “my vision” and “my way” of accomplishing that vision that I can actually kill it. How? Because I must first approach a vision from the stand point of, its God's vision, not mine. Then God brought me a dream and he will bring others to help in its advancement. To that degree their perspective is as valuable as mine.

Leadership requires a greater level of attention and care from the key person. But I need others to help in the formation of the things God has placed in my hands. I learned this lesson recently when a young lady, who is on my staff, and a recent graduate significantly enhanced how we approach our programming. She after having an opportunity to work at our churches leadership meeting began to question and challenge how we do things. My first thought was, 'who do you think you are', but I invited her so she was exactly who I needed her to be. She begin to ask questions that I had decided I already knew the answer to, and began to take my words and thoughts and make them better.

After she completed pushing back on what I held so dear, I began to see more clearly how the ministry could be greatly advance through her point of view. Now, I like to think that I give my leaders voice to challenge things, but it is different when one does it so powerfully yet humbly.  Had I not listened, I would have been making a dyer mistake. Because of OPP I anticipate great growth. 

If you are a leader, I challenge you to allow someone new to push on the vision God has given you. If you are a student, look for chances to give your perspective when possible. God brings the right people at the right time to accomplish His purpose. Those voices can sometimes come from the most unsuspecting places. "Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety." Proverb 11:14

 

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