What kind of relationships do you have with former students? If you have been in ministry for more than 4 years, there’s a chance that you have built relationships with young adults who used to be your youth. These relationships can be interesting.
Many times, if you are like me, you tend to look at the former students who seem to no longer be living for Jesus. You know the ones I’m talking about.
I mean the ones who you see in the local “Jailbirds” newspaper that features mugshots of people who have been arrested for various crimes. You think, “Well, it’s not super-surprising that the 7th grade boy who got in trouble for lighting that junior girl’s hair on fire during that lock-in was arrested for arson...” or “Hey, look at that. The kid who smuggled an Airsoft Assault rifle to Summer camp has been thrown in the pokey for illegal firearms…” maybe, “Look at that. The girl who couldn’t keep her hands off of her boyfriend during the ‘Night of Prayer’ is on ‘Maury’…”
You question the decisions that were made when your former students were teens and you wonder what you, personally, could have done differently. If we allow ourselves to dwell on the ‘what-ifs’ of our past, we will drive ourselves crazy.
We can learn from the past. We look, and we can make adjustments accordingly. Perhaps we focus a little more on those kids on the fringe in our groups. However, we shouldn’t forget to take a good look at the success stories. Let’s remember those former youth who are now in college, pursuing God. Take a look at those young adults who are blazing the path the God has laid out for them. Examine the young married couples whose relationship is a picture of Godly marriage. Don’t neglect what evidence God has given you that you have, in fact, done some things right, as you youth minister or youth worker. Go back to those ‘success stories’ and ask these former students what they saw as helpful and equipping in your ministry. If you are brave enough, ask those same questions to former students who may not be living for God right now.
Be patient. In our current, instant-gratification fueled society, it’s easy for us to want to see immediate results.
We want to see those former students bearing fruit right now. It may be awhile before it happens. We can pray, and keep the communication lines open. Perhaps these former youth will be prodigals that eventually return to the family. When they do, make sure you are waiting, with open arms.
Finally, if your ‘success rate’ with students is less than 2%, like 98% of them fall away and stay away..then maybe…just maybe…it’s you. (or not or whatever, j/k)
Be encouraged today. What you’re doing matters.
About The Author: Brent McCoy
Brent McCoy is the Youth Minister at First Baptist Church, Ponca City. He is also a weekend DJ at The House FM. He can be heard delivering sick puns on Saturday and Sunday nights. He has been married to Marybeth since 2001, and he’s a Dad to 5 kids...all from the same woman. He enjoys reading, playing basketball, and Transformers. Brent’s blog entries should never, under any circumstances, be taken too seriously. Consult your physician to see if his posts could be right for you.