As a youth pastor I communicate hundreds of messages each year to my students. Maybe even thousands.
Before I move on, I don’t simply mean “sermons” when I say messages. Every communication counts; the early Sunday morning greeting, the glance, the smile and wave across the room, the Facebook posts, the text messages, and the hug at the end of the service.
If I had one chance to communicate the most important things to every teenager in my ministry, I think this is what I would say.
1. I believe in you.
Your generation is going to step up and take the torch in a big way. You already are. I believe in your ability to spread the good news of Jesus to the ends of the world. I absolutely believe that your generation could be the one to get the message to every living person on the planet. I just want to be a part of helping you do that!
2. I’ve got your back.
You’re going to need an advocate along the way. That’s where I come in. I’ve literally given my entire life to equipping and investing in the next generation. Seriously. It’s all I think about! I along with Rachel and the team of volunteers who pour into your lives every week are ready to help get you on the right path! When you fall, we’ll help pick you up. When you need encouragement, we’ll build you up. When you need resources, we’ll work hard to equip you. Whatever you need, that’s what we're here for.
3. I want you to win.
The statistics are ugly. They say that you will most likely end up leaving your faith at home when pack for college. I want to be a part of changing those statistics. I want you to win your race! But that will only come with intense focus. That’s why this next point is so important.
4. You sin is not OK.
So I guess this post isn’t all candy and butterflies. I totally just depressed you. But check this out: what makes us think that our sin is OK when the abundant life is a life that pursues the direct opposite? I will always be there for you, and I will make myself available as often as I can to help you. But please know this: We’re not going to laugh your sin off together. I’m not going to pat your back while you jump back into your nasty habits. We’re going to work together to murder your sin.
5. I want your trust. And I will continue to work to earn it.
I get it. It’s weird that some random adult that you don’t really know is telling you how to run your life on Sundays and Wednesdays. When I step back and look at it, I’m continually surprised that you continue to show up. I will only gain the unfiltered trust of a few, because that kind of trust comes through personal relationships. Simply speaking, I can’t have the same level of friendship with everyone. But I know this: I’m not out to sell you anything. I really just want to be a friend to you and to point you toward Jesus. And I’m afraid that if I don’t have your trust, I can’t do that.
6. There will be days when you don’t want me around.
Your sin got the best of you and you’ve decided to take a different path (at least for the moment). All of a sudden, the youth pastor represents “coming back to Jesus” (or at least the guilt of not doing so), and you’re not quite ready for that yet. Here’s what I want you to know: I love you. We’re still friends. I don’t hate you. And I’m still here for you. Just know this: I do want you to pursue Jesus with every fiber of your being, but even when you don’t do that, I will never write you off. I’m still here and I still love you!
7. The absolute best thing you can do with your life is to put your trust in Jesus!
It’s as simple as that. Jesus said it Himself:
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”