Youth and Culture

I am going to let you in on a little secret about myself.
This is no confession of sin, embarrassing story, or admission
of a sixth toe. It is something that any youth pastor will agree with 
wholeheartedly. The secret is this: youth ministry wears me out.   

 

 

I am going to let you in on a little secret about myself. This is no confession of sin, embarrassing story, or admission of a sixth toe. It is something that any youth pastor will agree with wholeheartedly. The secret is this: youth ministry wears me out.    

Every Sunday night after youth group, I am completely exhausted. It is often said or implied that I, along with all youth leaders, should always be excited about youth group. In all honesty, it can be a mental and spiritual battle preparing to head to youth group. Now, I love the students of Ignite and enjoy hanging out with them. However, working with students is difficult, and is made exponentially more difficult because of how much I care about my students.  

“The young people of today face an incredible amount of hardship and temptation.”

Here is where the difficulty lies. The young people of today face an incredible amount of hardship and temptation. They are the smartphone and tablet generation, who have come to understand the use and accessibility of technology join the list of basic human rights. They are a generation of people with many competing influences in their homes (and screens). They are constantly offered sex, drugs, and alcohol by peers. These choices are also glorified and normalized by the media. There are so many influences promising that the best life is found by doing whatever you want to do.

At the same time that society and culture send conflicting messages, each and every one of these students has difficult, personal life situations to deal with. Their friends 
treat them poorly; their bosses are unfair; they are constantly told that they are worthless, by culture and people in their lives (that is, unless they achieve certain goals or do certain things). Each student carries scars and hurts and stories that aren't heard or felt by the people around them. 

On Sundays, I see both of these heartbreaking situations at work in the students of Ignite. I hear about heartbreak and difficulty in their lives during those few hours. When we do the math, the situation seems overwhelming. There are 168 hours every week; I spend just two hours of that week telling them about the love of Jesus. Two hours of the Gospel of Jesus. 166 hours of the gospel of self-gratifying choices. 166 hours with inferred messages of worthlessness. This is the dilemma of youth ministry and this is why I am exhausted on Sunday evenings.

So, is there hope?  

Yes.

It is found in my complete reliance on a good God. Whenever I present the beauty of the Gospel of Jesus to these students, a group of rowdy teenagers becomes completely silent and hangs, not on my every word, but on the words spoken by all of the saints and lived out by one man. The Gospel is powerful enough to break through 166 hours of culture telling these students to do whatever makes them feel good. The Gospel is powerful enough to break through 166 hours of these students being told they have no value.  
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is powerful enough to work through the efforts of a small church in Auburn, California. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is powerful enough to change the world through one act of love.