Hey folks, I was going to post something on Technology and Theology, but I’m taking a break for this week from the web strategy series to address something more specific to mission and theology. We’ll, hopefully, jump back to the series with web strategy next week.
Every church has them, they’re noisy, loud, make a mess, and generally just have to be watched all the time. No, I’m not talking about babies although these things are true for them too. (I mean, have you seen what a 6 month old can do while left alone? It’s amazing the amount of destructive energy they have. Now if only we could harness that for good…….ok that’s a rabbit trail for another day.) What I’m actually talking about is teenagers. The ones who sit in the back, talk, interrupt, go into the bathroom for the ENTIRE sermon, and in general don’t know how to act\dress appropriately during any situation.
Let me give you some back story and context.
Context: We haven’t built our student ministry out of our families section. We have some teenagers from our families, but few, as our church is primarily younger families. We have built our student ministry out of a bunch of kids who, mostly, didn’t know Jesus a year ago, don’t have dads, and come from really rough neighborhoods in our cities. So the majority of our kids either:
A) don’t know Jesus
B) are new believers who need to be discipled
Back story: Jess and I were out-of-town this past weekend visiting family. When we got back into town we were able to sit down with a volunteer worker and friend of ours and then were relayed the following story. She started by saying “The kids did good today.” This however, sounded like there was more there. So we asked, and here’s what came next. Our worker went out to eat lunch with some friends after the service. While eating lunch a comment was made to her regarding the noisyness of our kids. Our worker, who didn’t realize that others thought they were being noisy. I feel I must explain that at the moment there’s a bit of a different grid for those who work with these kids consistently compared to people who serve in older age groups like our college or family ministries and we are working hard to bridge that gap and bring understanding there. She asked the friends what they did in response and they stated that they simply turned around and glared at the kids (I assume ’til the noise died down). I’m sure our kids felt very loved and encouraged by this. Now, before you go off on the “stupid” teenagers (although they do make a ton of bad decisions, cause they’re young) think to where they’ve come from, not where you’re at. Then think about the other people, who are leaders, and they all have been in meetings where we talk about engaging\encouraging those who are lost or new followers of Jesus. Now before you fo off on the “bad” leaders, I also need to explain that these are people who love Jesus, serve consistently, and I’ve seen all of them individually love people really well. Ok, now that I’ve said that and everyone knows that they aren’t the enemy (hint: the devil is the enemy and he likes to cause fights because if you’re fighting with people you’re not fighting the devil).
Now regarding the title of my post: my point is that IF you are a leader and IF you believe in discipleship; then you decide not to develop some relationships with kids, ask them some questions, and get into their lives to develop some understanding while getting to the HEART behind the ACTIONS: Don’t Complain To Me. I don’t want your problems I want your help with solutions. YOU were created in the image of God, YOU were designed to make an impact, YOU have something to give…so…give. Go meet some kids and get in their lives and live out the discipleship you say you believe. If there are still issues, THEN come talk to me.
Now there are obviously other issues here. I have to deal with several problems revealed from this situation. As a leader, I also have to take responsibility for my part as that is my job as a leader. So here are my next steps
A) I need to talk to those leaders and explain this so that they can change the situation.
B) I and my team need to do more discipleship work ourselves with our kids in getting to those heart issues and I need to do some more prayer for our ministry that the Holy Spirit would move and change hearts.
C) Our teaching on discipleship throughout the congregation as a whole needs to increase and I need to come up with a clearer process for helping people engage our kids through discipleship.
How is discipleship in your church? Is your church a place where new believers will feel loved? What can you do to make it better than it already is?