A few months back, my team and I talked about this statement,

“We provide programming that is physical, emotional, and spiritually safe without making it experientially safe.”

What chords does it strike you?

I simply want to get you thinking on this topic and share a bit of what we talked about as a team.

I see it being split into two parts regarding programming.  

One: Physical safety.
Two: Spiritual safety.

PHYSICAL SAFETY:
Is physical safety weighing heavier over our spiritual growth and health?

Yes, we always want our students to be safe.  It would be a tragedy if something happened to them.  But, do those thoughts hinder us from allowing our students to experience God fully?  Do we plan our mission’s trips, our outreach events based on what’s going to be the safest? Do we make programming decisions based on our students’ physical safety?

I want to create an atmosphere in our programming where the Spirit is free to move about.  An atmosphere where it’s easy to focus in and hear the Spirit because distractions are being eliminated.  An atmosphere where communication is clear through the speaking of God’s Word.

Now, we shouldn’t be stupid about making decisions, but what I’m saying is that shouldn’t be our first priority when creating a program.  That shouldn’t hinder our decisions on whether or not to go out and minister on the streets if that’s what God wants us to do.  That shouldn’t hold us back from telling people about Jesus in a different city, different country, or a different nation.

Physical safety shouldn’t be the top priority in your ministry.

That may be weird to say to a parent or a colleague.  “Our first priority is not safety in ministry.”  Which when telling this to a parent, our team talked about keeping in mind whether or not that parent/guardian is a Christ follower.  It does make a difference in whether or not they will understand this concept and how you go about making that clear if the issue comes up.  (You can touch on that when the time comes)

Where physical safety lies in the priority spectrum can also be tied to parenting.  Are you, as a parent, putting safety higher than you are putting your kid’s spiritual health?  I simply want to put that question out there to get you thinking when deciding whether or not your child can do something. (My boss read a good article by Tim Elmore on “Three Huge Mistakes We Make Leading Kids” if you wanted to dive further into this topic)

Let’s move on.

SPIRITUAL SAFETY:
What I mean by this is; are we playing it safe?  Are we, as youth leaders creating a comfortable atmosphere in our programming, or doing easy things because we’re trying to keep our kids spiritually safe?  Not exposing them to too much or guarding what we say in our messages.

Does spiritual safety play too much into planning a program or an event? Are they ready to hear this?  You think they can handle this? Which again, can be valid questions, but are they top priority.

Take a moment and think about that.

God’s going to move regardless of what we do, we know that, but how do we create programming where Jesus is free to do that work?

We think of the souls first and foremost.

We think of what Jesus came to do; “to seek and save the lost.” So, therefore, we do the same.  That we’re supposed to “love your neighbor as yourself.”

It doesn’t say, “…seek and save the lost, but not the gang members, not if it’s too scary.”  It doesn’t say, “love your neighbor, but not until you’re ready.”

It tells us plain and simple; “go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone.” (Mark 16:15 NLT)

Following Jesus means taking risks.  Laying down our own life, in order for Jesus to reign supreme.

Consider these things in your own spiritual life.

In your own ministry.

Putting safety lower on the spectrum.

Not letting it make all your decisions for your programming, but letting the Spirit move.

Going and doing whatever it takes to spread the love of Jesus to all the nations.

I pray that this post gets you thinking like it got our team thinking.  I pray that our ministries are Jesus focused, no if, and, or, or buts.  Let Heaven come on this earth, even closer than it is now.

Becca Ebenhoch
Guest Blogger
Becca has done youth ministry in various places across the US and is currently doing youth ministry in Modesto, CA.

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