I had a really good youth ministry experience. My youth pastor loved me enough to not only spend time with me, but also to point out sin in my life. I was so impacted by my youth ministry that after graduating high school, I spent a few years at my church discipling junior high students. In fact, it was my time working with those students that led to my calling into full time ministry. Two years later, when I went to Moody Bible Instituted, I immediately began attending and helping with a youth ministry at a local church. Then two years later, I went on staff as an intern for another two years. It was only after this that I went to a different church as a youth pastor for almost four years. At this point, I had spent almost 10 years in youth ministry.
Now, I am not saying that I was the best youth pastor or youth worker. In fact, I think at times, I was not a good one. But one of the things that I was taught, applied, and taught others is to not buy into the lie that students don't want someone confronting their sin. It is not games that make a good youth ministry. It is the teaching of God's Word and the relationships that are built that allow you to speak into their life. It is not that we did not have fun in our youth ministry, it was just that the fun was defined differently than it is at the local YMCA.
Yesterday, I was watching a video by Jefferson Bethke as he was being interviewed by Trevin Wax for The Gospel Project. Bethke became a YouTube hit with his "Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus." In that interview (the video is provided below), Bethke made the following comments about students and ministry to young people:
"Why kids think God isn't relevant or why they think they don't need Him is because we're not making sin big and we're not making God big. And when you do that [make sin big], the cross is huge. But when you make sin small, then the cross has to be small, and God is automatically small."Watch the entire video. And youth pastors, preach the Bible. Develop relationships with your students so that you can speak into their life. And don't be scared to confront them on their sins. Quit playing games and focus on the things that will matter ten years later. Don't be scared to deal with their hearts!