Sometimes ministry is not neat

About a year ago, we started thinking and planning some of the changes that needed to be made to increase and improve the reach of our youth ministry. After surveying the needs of our church and our community as a whole, we eventually decided on a church model that I originally rejected for our church. But, my heart got soft to the spiritual needs of the people and was really led to go with this particular model.

I looked at a few other churches that were doing this model and it seemed to be working fairly well for them. But I noticed something – it seemed to all fit nice and neat for them. Ages, programs, processes, etc all seemed to flow pretty neatly for them. I looked their application and started to examine this in our own environment and came to a quick conclusion – “We can’t do it the way they do it.”

Not too long ago, I asked someone who does the ministry model we’re adopting about how they meet a particular need that is DEFINITELY going to be needed to pull off our own execution of it. His response to how to meet that need was simple – “We don’t.” I was floored because I thought about all of the people that wouldn’t be reached if we didn’t deal with this issue in our setting and said to myself “How are you not meeting that need?!”  Then I was reminded that the needs in my community are different than theirs.

Sometimes ministry is not neat. There are some needs unique to where you are that don’t neatly fit into what has been done before. Maybe your youth ministry needs to find an approach to deal with child care so that you can reach young single mothers so that they won’t be kept at home because their mom won’t babysit while they go “have fun at church.” Maybe you have to find security for your settings because you’ve been reaching out to current and former gang members. Maybe you have to plan a small group for the cheerleaders at a particular school because 6 girls on the team got saved but can’t make it out to the other planned small group nights. Maybe you have to have a leader in another community to deal with the day to ministry to some of the kids because they live much closer to them than you do and you can’t get to them because of time and work schedule. Maybe you have to stop calling your youth church “student” ministry so that you can reach the people who aren’t students. Or stop calling it “college” ministry so that you can reach the 20 year old who isn’t in school but works a full time job making $38,000/year.

Sometimes ministry is not neat. Embrace the mess so that we can reach some messy people.

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