a radical call to discipleship: KEEP IT SIMPLE…

joepuentes —  November 16, 2011 — 1 Comment

Do you know how many times I wanted to quit being a youth pastor and stop being a influence on teenagers lives? Probably at least a dozen times… I’m 38 years old, I’ve been a youth pastor for over 17 years and have come to realize a few things about myself and youth ministry (at least in my own little world). Here is my context: I am in a large church, leading a large youth ministry, working under the typical scorecard that we use to identify a successful youth ministry, but I’m trying to invent a new scorecard (Read my blog post on having a new scorecard). What I want  for youth ministry is a radical call to discipleship and I want to keep it simple…

When it comes to myself, I’m done being a programer and an event planner. Its not that I don’t find value in these things, I am just done with them being the center of who I am as a youth pastor… When it comes to youth ministry, I‘m done and have been done with the entertainment aspect of youth ministry. “If this makes me a bad youth pastor, then I guess I am one…” In all sincerity, I have spent many years focusing on big events and big programming to attract large groups of students, and there is some value in it. However, when that type of value is all that I’m shooting for then I missed on what Jesus called me to do… To be honest, running big events and programing is a lot harder to do, and takes more resources in people, money, and building space. Oh and that leads me to another thing – big events and big programming might lead to discipleship, but it’s not discipleship. Attractional/Event driven youth ministry is not the “end all meets all” for youth ministry. I know this to be true! We have planted, overhauled, and maintained several youth ministries throughout the years. Many times, especially when it came to the overhauls, the issues revolved around the residual effects of an attractional/event driven youth ministry…

Keep it simple! Remember youth ministry at its core is about students knowing and growing in a relationship with Jesus, and simply loving and discipling students. Nothing else should supersede this core value. Discipleship is not an event or even a program, it is a lifestyle! Events and programs can help lead into discipleship, but they will never replace discipleship. Youth ministry should be for the students and the families, and not the youth pastor. We need to teach students to do ministry and not be spectators of ministry.

Here is what we have been doing: We have had students participate in the teaching team in our Sunday morning gatherings (hopefully one day it will be in the adult service), we told students that we would be glad to help them witness to their friends, by equipping them, but we will not share the gospel to their friends for them – the result is we have had over 7 students baptize their friends this year, and with more to come. Students have organized and lead prayer groups in their schools on a weekly basis, and a couple of them have turned into Bible studies, all of which were student initiated and student led. Our students have initiated and organized service projects with three different local agencies, they have planned community gatherings with their peers for the sake of gathering as a group (some houses have had 60 to 100 students at those gatherings), and there are the little things that happen on a day in and day out occurrence. Heck, even my own mentoring group met this week without me. I told them we couldn’t meet this week because I was going on vacation. They decided to meet and each took a turn in leading the mentoring group. Students lives are being changed. They are influencing their neighbors (I’ll blog on what I mean by “neighbor” in a future post.) in whatever context they are living out their faith.

Is this messy sometimes? Yes, it is. This is how the Christian life can be at times. Can somethings not go very well? Yes, they fail. You know what, it is okay for students to fail how else will they rely only on God and see His glory! Do the numbers not always look good for the Monday morning report? Well, it all depends on what your scorecard is… KEEP IT SIMPLE and you will see radical discipleship take place.

If I wanted to be an event planner, I would go do that…

One response to a radical call to discipleship: KEEP IT SIMPLE…


    I wish I could have had what you’re talking about here in middle school / high school, it could have made my world such a better place. All i need to do is tell my story, it’s the example of an effect to the cause that you expose in this concept. These kids lives that you touch are changing them joe. its important, and i thank God for you and your life and your family.

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