I don’t know where this idea came from, but it seems like a lot of people have the idea that the point of student ministry is to babysit a bunch of teenagers, make sure they don’t commit any really bad sins, and teach them a bunch of apologetics so they don’t leave the faith when they go to college. Thus, lots of students ministries keep their students busy with safe fun stuff, have parent teacher conferences, and fill their heads with lots of knowledge.
If that’s student ministry, count me out.
The fundamental problem with treating student ministry that way is that you treat Holy Spirit empowered saints like out of control animals instead of productive parts of the Body of Christ. They aren’t a target which we merely minister to. As Spirit empowered saints, they NEED to be serving along side the rest of the Body. They aren’t a weight on the back of the church. They are important piece of the church.
1 Corinthians 12
12 The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. 15If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. …27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
Teenagers may be weird, often gross, and unrefined, but they are still a part of the Body of Christ. Their youthfulness and dumb behavior doesn’t cause them to cease to be part of the body. Each of the them (assuming they’re believers) serve a vital role in the Body.
Really, they should be some of our most prized works. They have tons of energy, fresh ideas, and free time. I need workers like that.
I recently visited Elevation Church while on vacation. As my wife and I walked towards the meeting area, we were assaulted (her word not mine) by dozens of greeters who were telling me where to go. We got three personal, “Welcome to Elevation Church” comments before sitting down. Two of those comments came from teenage greeters. While we waited for the service to begin, I was looking around and saw so many teenagers I briefly thought we might have gone into the wrong room (I’m not kidding). Eventually things evened out. During the service, Steven Furtick asked all the volunteers to stand up. At that moment over half of the teenagers stood up (including the kid next to me with a mohawk. They were serving in the exact same capacity as the adults, and they were excited to do it.