As you head into this new year, you most likely have great hopes for the new year in your ministry—students coming to Christ, turning back to Christ, families restored, students growing in their relationship with Christ and becoming the leaders you have worked so hard to see them be and have prayed so much for them to be.
Other youth pastors, denominations, and para-church ministries would offer and debate hundreds of various approaches, systems, and programs that would be the most effective way to accomplish your vision for your students. Some would work, some would fail, while some would merely entertain. So what do you do? How do you decide what’s right for you? Obviously, that is going to come down to you being the expert on your youth group. Knowing their needs and seeing how to best meet them. But here’s one thing we want to offer that is a fail-safe for any ministry, regardless of your church’s theology and polity.
For this next year, focus on Jesus. The Truth, the Life, and the Way. The Savior of the world. The One to Whom one day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess. If you put Jesus front and center, right-in-the-middle, unapologetically, unashamedly out there for your students in every meeting, Bible study, game, activity, and event, you can 100 percent know that something will happen. Because you’re seeking first the Kingdom of God. You’re putting the eyes of your students right where they should be.
Will the hottest program work for you? Will that new series of studies you saw at the big conference make your students be like those kids on the promo video acted? . . . Don’t know. But, regardless, if you put Jesus first in all things in this next year, we are promised, something will happen, someone will change. Your hard work and efforts will see fruit. Students will be made different and make a difference.
As you prepare for every meeting, every study, every event, you and your team should ask this question: Do we have Jesus front and center, clearly communicated, easily available for all who may seek Him? If a student is seeking Jesus, can he/she find Him in this meeting, at this event?
Programs come and go, the hot new book will be in the clearance section soon, and even your best plans have a 50/50 chance of connecting, but Jesus showing up as the Special Guest offers a 100 percent chance for change—every time.
May your student ministry be the city set on a hill for all to see, because Jesus is the Light placed there. Then when people ask you what amazing strategy you credit for what God is doing in your midst, you can just smile and say, “Honestly, it’s just Jesus.” Your work will shine and your Heavenly Father will be praised.
You are like light for the whole world. A city built on top of a hill cannot be hidden, and no one would light a lamp and put it under a clay pot. A lamp is placed on a lampstand, where it can give light to everyone in the house. Make your light shine, so that others will see the good that you do and will praise your Father in heaven.
—Matthew 5:14-16 CEV