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And Love Them

You might recall I told the story a few days ago of what a youth minister “losing” one of the youth in his church.  I want to continue the story of that young man I once knew.

That particular youth minister left.  Another came.  For whatever reason, churches in those days thought it best to combine their youth ministers with their music ministers.  At least this particular church did.  So youth ministry actually was basically youth choir ministry.  If you weren’t interested in youth choir, you were left out of the clique.  That may not have been the intent, but that was what happened.

That youth from the earlier story turned sixteen and had to work.  Why?  So that he could pay for college.  There was no other way around it.  If he was going to school, he was going to have to work.

One Sunday morning at church, the youth minister cornered him at church.  He asked the young man why he hadn’t been to the youth activities on Sunday nights.  The young man responded by telling him that he had a job and was working.  The youth minister’s response?

“I don’t respect any company that won’t let their kids off to go to church.”

And that was it.  This young man never went to another youth event again in his life.

*****

Where do you think this young man is today?  Is he in church now?  What would be your guess?  I know the answer and will be happy to tell you in the comments.

*****

My prayer is that the church has changed since I was in the youth and knew this young man.  I pray that youth ministers take the time to know what is going on with the youth they are charged to lead.  I know that’s tough.  Many youth ministers are “part-time”, whatever that means.  They can only do so much.  They have their own families and can’t get to know everyone.

But the issue is much bigger than that.

Do we really know each other in the church?  Do we know what makes people tick?  Do we know each other’s past?  Do we really know each other’s struggles and hurts?  Do we know why that person thinks that way or why their “weird”?

You don’t get that by just seeing someone for a few minutes on Sunday morning.  You have to actually be involved in their lives.  You have to be patient.  You have to put up with their junk from time to time.

You have to love them.  And love them.  And love them.

Do you put up with the junk of those in your church so that you can know them and show them God’s love?  Do you want to know if that young man is in church or not?

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Categories: Christianity, Church, Faith Tags: , ,
  1. April 10, 2013 at 5:51 am

    I figure you were that youth and God drew you to Himself in spite of the “jerky” comments made by so-called leaders. Being called a pastor of any kind involves shepherding, not brow-beating.

    • April 10, 2013 at 5:54 am

      Bill, it’s proof that God pursues and pursues and pursues….He does give up

  2. April 10, 2013 at 6:55 am

    Sounds like a legalistic, religious spirit. I know back in the day, that was the mentality of a lot of Christians, probably myself included. I’m thankful that through life experience and a change in our culture, I no longer “judge” that way, and I think the church as a whole has lightened up.

    The questions you ask are exactly my heartbeat, Larry. I want to really know the people of my church, I want to love them right where they’re at, I want to understand what makes them tick and what makes them ticked off; this is where true ministry will happen…not in judgement.

  3. April 10, 2013 at 7:46 am

    As a youth minister myself, I pray that I’ve never been guilty of driving someone away with my words. But I’m sure I have. And sometimes it’s probably been words that were heard and not necessarily spoken. Wouldn’t it be great if we could “hear” each other’s heart or intent, instead of our own interpretation? What if the youth minister’s intent in this story was just to communicate that he cared about you and missed you when you weren’t there and that was how it was received? I really appreciate you sharing your story because it reminds me to do a better job of guarding my words and following up with people.
    I agree that we need to spend more time getting to know our church family and be involved in their lives. As a “part-time” minister, that is very difficult. What part-time really means from my perspective is “bivocational” because many churches can’t afford to pay a full-time wage even though they often expect full time commitment. I do have a much deeper appreciation for volunteers who work full time and still give several hours a week and/or their summer vacations in service to God and the church. It takes time to get to really know someone. If you are bivocational, working fulltime somewhere else 40-50 hours per week, with a family, where does the time come from?

    • April 10, 2013 at 7:57 am

      I can’t say I 100% know the youth ministers heart, but I do know that he rubbed plenty of people the wrong way. And I have a friend who is a youth minister. He only has so much time and parents tend to expect too much.

      • David Anderson
        April 10, 2013 at 1:53 pm

        I too am in youth ministry, part-time/bivocational, whatever you want to call it. My first job out of college was a full time ministry position. I love kids and spending time with them. What I don’t like is the mentality that most in the church have that their kids should be of a higher priority to me than my own. Pastoring youth is difficult. Pastoring them and their parents is almost impossible.

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