Matt: Labor Day weekend made me think about the term “Labor of Love,” which made me think about my volunteer time I spend with students. God commands us to serve others, but when you love where you serve you do more for God, your students get more out of it, and so do you. When you step across the line and become a student ministry volunteer it means you have said “yes” to so many things. Mainly you have said yes to God. The more involved I have gotten in my ministry, the more I have grown as a Christian.
This summer we had a junior high event at Saddleback Church called “Night Camp.” One of the events they had that week was called “Double Dare” and it involved a lot of mess which is fun for junior high students but maybe not so fun for the adult leaders. Steven had volunteered for the event that night and I called him right at the end of the night. I asked how it went, and he told me, “I’m covered in tomato sauce, flour, and water, but I loved every minute of it.” To be an effective volunteer, you have to be the guy who is not afraid or embarrassed to get right in there with the students and get messy. As the saying goes, “Go big or go home.” Steven went big that night and the difference was he built a stronger relationship with our junior high students. If you sit on the sidelines, you’re not playing the game, you’re just watching the game.
Students are watching how you go about your volunteering… they will emulate what they see. If they see a leader who loves what he does, it will encourage them to find a ministry that they love, and something they can make a difference in someone’s life as well. Do what you love, and love what you do. If you’re just sitting on the sidelines of student ministry, GET IN THE GAME!
Steven: I’m not naturally an extrovert. By nature, I’m very much an introvert and I love me some alone time. On the other hand, I tend to get out of my normal introverted comfort zone when I step onto the youth ministry playing field. There’s something about being with students that leads me to be more energetic and want to talk to everyone. Because of that, I’ve coined the term “extroverted introvert” to describe myself.
With that being said, I think it’s super important to not only step out of your comfort zone in youth ministry, but be the guy that gets messy. Don’t be afraid to step out and be the guy or girl that goes crazy for the benefit of your students. Students (especially junior high) respond to high-energy, crazy fun. You’ll miss out on great ministry moments if you allow yourself to stay in your comfort zone and keep a comfortable distance.
If I had it my way the night of Double Dare, I wouldn’t have had a drop of tomato sauce, flour, or water on me. And trust me, I tried really hard to make that wish a reality! The thing that pushed me over the edge and allowed me to break free of my comfort zone was a random student I hadn’t met yet come up from behind me, covered in tomato sauce, and give me a big bear hug. After I was covered in sauce, what’s the point in trying to stay clean? Although I hadn’t planned it, Ethan brought me to the point that I needed to get more involved and be in the middle of the action that night.
Don’t let your tendencies control you in youth ministry. Let God have control. Sometimes you’ll have to get a little messy (or covered in flour and tomato sauce), but if that’s what it takes to start life change in a student’s life, I’ll take that over being clean any day of the week.
What can you do to step out of your comfort zone and “get messy” in your ministry?