Hosts Jeff Eckart and Jayson Brewer interview Charlie Alcock, a youth ministry professor at Indiana Wesleyan University. Charlie has been a youth leader/youth pastor for 28 years and now raises up the next generation of youth leaders who sense God’s call into ministry. We discuss many aspects of students’ life, but more specifically the time period after they graduate. As much as students want to do great things and change the world, can we teach them that extraordinary acts of God start with everyday acts of obedience?
Talk to about the transition for students from high shool to post-high school.
What happens normally for a student, as a kid, they do what they are told to do. Through middle school and high school, it is all laid out for them. Then they have to make a decision about their life after high school. There is a crisis moment for students to make a decision. The decision is the students’ and then they have to take responsibility for that decision.
There is a point of asking “what’s next?” Students have to decide to take what they have heard and make it their own. But, in that season, we may think we have lost people, which is not true. It is a season for them to make it their own from the seeds that have been planted from parents to pastors. The time now is to see growth.
God’s Word will not return void, but we expect instant results. They move on to college and we expect them to be a godly person right away. Some students transition quickly and instantly and know what they are called to do. Some seem to be floundering. It is different for each student that graduates.
In youth ministry or as parents, we can intentional or unintentionally create a stress level for students – needing to know what they will do after graduating. By the time they are juniors, they need to know. But it may be a multiple year process post high school.
People will do 2, 3, 4, 20, 30 things in their life when they are trying to figure things out until they discover what those 2-3 things they want to do the rest of their life. Instead of trying to figure those 2-3 things out at 18-19 years old, they just need to stay active. They should constantly move forward, don’t stay stagnant, lazy or disinterested. They are to be active in what they are doing now. Let those activities reveal what is next for them. If they are active now and are doing things, then that main thing God is calling them to will be revealed.
Don’t give up. People who are active end up winning in the end because they keep learning through the activity.
You might have 5, 6, 7 jobs before you finally figure out that one thing that you are good at or gifted at. If you don’t process those first couple jobs, then you will never discover that one main thing. It is important to stay active. Even if you fail, you are not failing.
What are adolescents going through?
What’s critical and important in our growth is to never to go back and project what we are learning now as an adult onto a middle schooler or high schooler as if they don’t need to experience it themselves the first time. We can continue to grow and experience new things, but we need to remember who we are working with and where they are at. It may seem like we are simplifying things and that is old to us, but to that middle school student, it is brand new. It may be the first time they understand the principle. As leaders, we have done it over and over, we have grown and developed, learned in depth about the scriptures, etc. but we need to walk it through the first time with the students. Can we have joy in the simple and little things with them?
When you are a youth worker, you are like a high school football coach, you teach the fundamentals. Next class comes in and you still need to teach the fundamentals. If you want to teach deeper, then we may need to move on with them and teach it at the next level, as a professor.
We ask why aren’t they where I am at? Our content can be deep, it can be filled with biblical truth, but our job is to coach them up and build foundational truths and teach the fundamentals. Coach them up to get them to the next level. If we want to see them progress beyond that, then we need to go with them beyond that.
We don’t rebuild a ministry but reload a ministry by constantly developing the next students coming up.
The average male brain develops fully at the age of 24-26. The average female brain develops at the age of 22-24. We are dealing with students that are going through the most intense times of their lives. They are making life altering decisions during the more tumultuous time of their lives.
We are to constantly love them. Adolescence needs to hear it over and over and over until it becomes a habit for them.
As youth workers, when we are communicating to adults, what are ways that youth workers can be advocates on behalf of students?
1. We need to help this generation be obedient in the simple things.
Not to just wait for the extraordinary acts, which happen few and far between. Extraordinary acts of God, they start with everyday acts of obedience. Everyday ordinary acts are mounted together which leads to the extraordinary.
2. Celebrate the tiny victories.
Celebrate the try and the effort. A good leader/mentor will notice that people try/ have effort. A good leader must celebrate the efforts as much as any victory.
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