Competing with other local youth groups

Adam McLane and I were talking via Twitter about his post, 3 Lies of Church Growth Experts. It really is sad how many churches have become more focused on building a church rather than building the Kingdom of God. It’s not about growing mature believers and sending them out into the world — it’s about collecting as many pew-sitters as possible so you feel good about yourself and your “ministry.” It’s the same attitude people have when they do evangelism as recruitment rather than out of a burden for lost souls that could care less about which Bible-teaching church they join later.

Unfortunately, this mentality often trickles down to the youth ministry. I fequently hear about the competitive nature between local church youth ministries, about how one youth worker is upset because some of his kids went to a different youth group and how they have to compete with the big church to keep their kids. People, this is not how the body of Christ is supposed to function. It’s not about us versus them, it’s about seeing teenagers mature into sold-out passionate worshipers and dedicated students of the Word. Who cares if that happens best at your church or at someone else’s church?

Personally, I’m not offended when one of my youth group kids goes to another church’s youth group because I want that student to be wherever they’re going to grow the most. I’ll be honest enough to tell you that that’s not always in my youth group. Every youth group is different and so is every student. I have kids from other churches in my church’s ministry and other churches in the area have teens from my church. It’s not a big deal. In fact, there have been several occasions when I’ve actually sent my kids to another church’s youth group because they were doing something that I thought could really benefit them spiritually. I’m actually doing it again at the end of this month and purposefully not scheduling anything here that might conflict with it.

Remember, it’s not about being possessive and thinking of the teens as “my teens” because they’re not yours — they belong to the Lord. Your roll is to help nourish them spiritually, whether that takes place at your church’s ministry or someplace else. Don’t let your jealousy or disappointment stand in the way of that.

Besides, what’s the worst that could happen? If all of your kids leave your group and start going someplace else, would that be so bad? Take your efforts and join that other youth ministry’s efforts instead! It’s about building God’s Kingdom, not building your youth group. That’s exactly why I love partnering with many of the youth pastors in my community every Tuesday morning at our Allies meetings. We’re a team working together for the teenagers in our community. We are NOT competitors trying to collect as many teens in our group as we can.

Posted on July 16, 2008

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