Every week following our youth programming, I clean up a mess. Papers, candy wrappers, pens, and pen pieces are scattered on the floor all over our worship area. Chairs that depict the creative artistry of some of our students are pulled aside for additional cleaning.
About a month ago, the morning following our youth programming, I was informed that all the chairs in our female bathrooms were stacked to the ceiling. Tetris, anyone?
Every week a student brings a struggle, tough situation, or current crisis to my attention. Whether it’s a bullying situation at school, a student who got busted for looking at something inappropriate online, or relational conflict, there’s a mess brought forward.
For those who may struggle with this ongoing debacle, here’s a thought… Isn’t that the point of youth ministry?
Chances are those students who litter your facility with their garbage are relatively new to the church world. Congratulations, you’re reaching unchurched students!
Chances are those students who are opening up to you are doing so because they know that you care, love them enough to listen and guide them, and are willing to jump into the mess with them.
If you aren’t – to some extent – going bananas on a weekly basis over the situations that present themselves, you might need to ask yourself if you’re doing it wrong.
Reaching lost students can guarantee messy ministry. Again, isn’t that the point?
Jesus Christ said He came to seek and save those who are lost. Lost students write with pen on church property. They don’t yet understand they’re actually in their Father’s house.
Lost students are going to run their mouths to your adult leaders. They’re trying to sort out why a complete stranger would step in to give them boundaries.
Lost students will try to pierce their friend’s ears in your bathrooms. Those darn bathrooms!
Reaching the lost comes with a cost: extra clean up, follow up with adult leaders and parents, endless conversations with your maintenance team, earnest time spent in prayer, and a heart that grieves for your students and their situations. It’s precisely this cost, however, that should inspire you to keep loving, keep serving, and keep pointing students to Christ.
After all, your consistency paired with their mess equals one great opportunity for God to reveal His glory. Minister within the mess.
Jenni has been in youth ministry for 6 years and is the Middle School Youth Director at Celebrate Community Church in Sioux Falls, SD.
© 2016, Never The Same