So things have been really difficult with youth ministry at church lately. Well, it’s always been a complicated, uphill battle; but last month we almost threw in the towel. Numbers were dropping, meetings were badly coordinated in spite of our efforts to organise and plan more, a key leader withdrew, everyone seemed to be getting distracted. Morale was low.
I said to the other leaders, part of me doesn’t know if it’s worth continuing week after week, maybe we should take a break; but a much bigger part of me opposes letting the enemy think he’s won. KD said we haven’t been praying enough. She mentioned another church in Loja, which had been in a similar position to the one in which we find ourselves. This was years ago, and now they have an active youth ministry of approximately 200. The key was prayer – the leaders committed to praying regularly at dawn.
And so that’s what we’ve done. Before daybreak Saturday mornings.
I won’t pretend it’s been easy. (I won’t pretend I’ve given up going out with friends on Friday night for it either). But we pray for the ministry, we pray for individual young people, we pray for wisdom for ourselves as leaders, we pray for the praise and worship ministry which is primarily made up of young people. We’ve realised that we can plan the most amazing activities for our youth, prepare really powerful Bible messages, but if their hearts are cold, it’s all in vain; and God is the only one who can touch and change hearts.
And today I caught a few snatches of encouragement:
- 15 of us at youth group today. This a big deal for us, far more than we’ve had lately, and included a good number who have never been regulars. Oh, and we studied the Bible – Hosea 1, of all things!
- KO’s faithfulness. She is shy and second-guesses herself, but she has been the most faithful of the youth leaders, and often even more faithful than the pastors. Her faithfulness is made even more manifest in the midst of all the challenges we’ve been facing. Her faithfulness warms my heart.
- KO and J getting a lot out of the books I gave them for their recent birthdays. Remember what I said about there not being a culture of reading here, the Bible and far less other books? That had made me hesitate about buying books for these two youth leaders. In the end, I did it anyway, because I knew the content was important, and that they weren’t going to get it from any other source anytime soon. I hoped that God’s Spirit in them would move them to at least start reading.
God is good, God is faithful. And I’m confident this is just the beginning.