In Youth Ministry What’s of First Importance?
I grew up as the middle child of three boys. Both my brothers are incredibly intelligent and since they have always been natural born thinkers, I have looked to find my identity in other areas (that don’t include Star Wars and speaking Klingon). Consequently, I have grown up as a Christian who needs theology to be simple and straightforward. This might be one of the reasons I love working with teenagers.
Most of the students I have worked with can answer most of the cliché Christian answers with ease. These “Golden Children” have a clear understanding of the rules that good kids should follow, but I wonder if they actually know the main message of the Bible. Think for a moment about the brightest teenagers you’re working with. They probably come to your events, encourage you when you preach a crummy message, and even laugh at your corny jokes. But, do they know—and I mean really understand in both mind and heart—what the Scripture says is most important?
Here’s how the Apostle Paul puts it in 1 Corinthians 15:1-3 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures,
Do you see what Paul’s saying is of first importance? As our Senior Pastor, Josh Black shared, “I understand that Paul is actually identifying that there are things in the Christian faith that are not of first importance and then there are things that are!”
How would students in your church answer this question: “What is your youth pastor most passionate about?” Or, how would they answer this one: “What is the main message of the Bible?” One final question that’d I’d be curious to ask: “What is of first importance to us as Christians?”
My brothers would pipe in here and say, “You’re just asking the same question in different ways.”, and of course they are right. But what is your answer? Consider this quote from Martin Luther. “The truth of the Gospel is the principle article of all Christian doctrine… Most necessary is it that we know this article well, teach it to others, and beat it into their heads continually.”
Is the Gospel the most important and powerful component of the ministry? Is the Gospel so clearly taught that teenagers could say upon graduation “My youth leader sure beat the main message of the Bible into my head!” Has the Gospel impacted your life so profoundly that it’s integrated into both your heart and mind? My hope and prayer is that we can be Gospel-Centered leaders who in good conscience can look at teenagers and say “I preached to you what is of first importance… the Gospel.” It doesn’t get much more simple or straightforward than this. Now, if only I can learn to say that in Klingon…