Why Working with Youth Isn’t As Scary As You Think

Teenagers are a different breed. I was reminded of this fact last week as I got up to begin youth and a middle schooler was creating a goldfish fish tank in his mouth: chugging some Dr. Pepper, then adding the delicious cheddar snack so it might swim around before being consumed. Actions like this (and the overall fear of adolescence) lead adults to alienate themselves from their church’s student ministry. Let me take a moment to convince you why working with you isn’t quite as scary as you might think.

We are all capable of providing the one thing students long for the most- sincerity. Teenagers hunger for an adult who will be genuine and honest. They’re not looking for an act or for someone who tries extra hard to relate to them. It doesn’t take a flawless knowledge of Snapchat, Instagram, or Tik-Tok to earn the right to talk to students. In fact, as I seek to build my adult leadership team, I look for someone who can be genuine.

To get to the heart of the issue, sincerely is something we all desire. There’s something about knowing someone is consistent regardless of the environment they’re in. In the gospel, we see how Jesus’ death on the cross in our place frees us to be honest about who we are. Paul says in Romans 10:13, “Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.” What leads us to call upon the name of the Lord? An honest view of ourselves, It’s only when we recognize who we are and stop trying to save ourselves that we find salvation in Christ.

In the same way, once we have received this salvation, we are free to be honest with the sins and struggles in our life. We aren’t honest in terms of seeking to stay in sin, but knowing that through sharing our sins, God purifies us to conform us into the image of Christ. James 5:16 says it this way, “Therefore,┬áconfess your sins to one another and pray for one another,┬áthat you may be healed.” We are wired to receive healing from our sins when we confess them.

Student ministry can still be intimidating, even for me. But God has already given us everything we need. Still on the fence about serving in your church’s student ministry? Why not give it a try? Be you, and see how God uses you.

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