Crazy right? Now let me explain.
In all of my ministry experience (4 years as a volunteer, 3 as full time minister), serving in four different churches, I have only have been under the leadership or have lead with the mindset of passion for reaching the non-believer. Of course there is discipleship, but the main purpose of the ministry to students is students bring their friend who don’t know Jesus to church so they get a chance to know Him. This is still a huge passion of mine. I understand there are a ton of different philosophies of ministry and strategies to reaching students who do not know Jesus, and I only can speak in which the context I have served and am currently serving. I have always had the mind-set that our main services for students is to reach the non-believer, not the already saved and converted.
Now, in the context of ministry our team works in, on the basis of our church DNA and pastor’s heart, our church was founded by the concept of: “This church is going to be a church for the people who don’t like church”. Everything we do on the weekend services is not for the Christian, but for the non-believer. Same with our student ministry. Our whole weekend experience is to EXPOSE students to the Gospel of Jesus, through many different outlets. The church is competing with the world for attention, and the world is good at it. I believe our ministry needs to be more creative, intentional, and good at executing the message of Jesus through great music, videos, sermon illustrations for new students who have never been to church before. Something that will get them thinking, “This is church? Not what I was expecting. I’ll come back to this to hear about this Jesus guy.”
It’s easy to think that when we loose our identity in way we do our weekend services that what we are doing is not helping students grow. It’s not for the church kids, it’s for the ones who are new and do not usually go to church. Now listen, we preach the message to students, every single service, and our team has had to deal with apathetic students who say, “Well I just don’t get anything out of it anymore.” Usually my first questions back are, “Are you in a small group? Are you in scripture everyday? Are you serving somewhere? No wonder. The services are not for you” (I say this in a loving way of course).
Small groups are the back bone to our ministry. Our goal is to get all students in a life group because that is where I believe life change happens. We have more students in small groups than who attend our weekends (glory be to God because that is Him working amazingly through our small group leaders who minister to our students). Services are the means in which we get them to a small group to grow deeper in Christ, and our small group team and volunteer leaders do an amazing job at getting kids in groups to minister to them in ways that they need.
I understand that there are so many different ways in which we do ministry. I understand that their are some groups that go verse by verse through the Bible, which the last church I was serving at did, and it’s great. But you have to look at the type of people coming into your ministry and make the decision from there. Context changes at every group you go to. Our services are not geared for the devoted believer, small groups are for this, our services are geared for the non-believer to create an understandable message for them to know Jesus and then surround that message with fun and creative ways to help them understand it better.
What is your ministry philosophy on that? Do you plan this as well? How does it look different?