Real Life Youth Ministry continues today! Each week we are sharing the story of someone doing Youth Ministry somewhere around the world. We all need encouragement in ministry at times. And sharing stories is one way we can encourage others on their journey. The Devil loves to bring discouragement, confusion, and make us feel like we’re not doing a good job or just aren’t good enough to be used by God. But the Bible says,
“And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony.” –Revelation 12:11
That’s why it’s so important to share our stories! This week Lucy from Sheffield in the UK is sharing her journey with us. She is volunteering at Youth and is passionate about seeing young people become life-long followers of Christ. I know you will find her story refreshing. Welcome, Lucy!
Tell us a little about yourself and how you ended up in Youth Ministry.
I grew up in my Church, going through the entire youth programme myself. I became a Christian through it, and now I work as a leader for the youth. It is a joy to watch the young people grow up and grow in their relationship with Jesus as they enjoy youth group and our youth Sunday service. Additionally, I work as a leader over in Hungary on camps during the summer break. Here we run talks, seminars, whilst enjoying wide games, craft, baking and sports together! Youth ministry is challenging, but even more so when not in your own language!
What does a typical Youth night look like for you?
Our youth club runs on a Friday night, starting at 6:15pm. We meet before for dinner and a dedicated time of prayer, to pray for God’s help and provision for the evening. We register the young people in, and then the whole church centre is laid out to host the evening. Each room has a different activity running in it, with craft, games, a sports hall and a chill cafe. The leaders are either responsible for running an activity, or they distribute themselves amongst the youth and get stuck in with them! Half way through the evening, we have an ‘Epilogue’. This is the real Gospel focused time in the night. A talk is given by a leader, and over a school term we will work through a book of the bible, or a theme. The youth are split into discussion groups, the same one each week, divided by both year group and gender. This means that they grow up in the same group, so the relationships they develop with the kids in their year are really deep and rooted. Each group has dedicated leaders, to keep consistency. There’ll be questions and discussion, and a small time of prayer, which we try to keep very natural in order to help non-believers feel comfortable. After Epilogue, activities are back on, with emphasis on the cafe being available as a place for chats, where the young people often talk about what they’ve heard, and how to apply that to their own faith personally.
What is something your ministry does well and how did that come about?
Our ministry is blessed to have many gifts from God. Firstly, we are a particularly large youth ministry, meaning non-believers are often brought along to things. One thing that many non-Christians who have become Christians through joining the youth often comment on, is that when they first join, they immediately notice the feeling of family we have in our youth ministry. God has wonderfully given our youth very servant hearts. They are so great at serving one another, using real initiative and looking for opportunities to help the leaders, and look after those more vulnerable in the group. Servant hearts and a familial atmosphere are two things that are really evident in our ministry, thanks to God!
Do you have any funny stories to share?
Like every youth group, ours has its own share of funny stories! Lots come up on our annual leader hunt – where leaders wear fancy dress and hide in the local town near where we hold camp, and the youth have to go round and find them all. Last year a group of leaders dressed as a wedding party, including bride, groom and vicar. They then staged a marriage ceremony outside the newsagents, and got photographed and made it to the local newspaper, because the locals thought it was a legitimate wedding service! A stir was also caused when two leaders dressed as Adam and Eve, with their costumes being rather shocking! (Fig leaves tactfully placed thank goodness!) One leader was also rebuked by some local elderly residents, for wearing a wetsuit and flippers and snorkelling in the duck pond! We have a real desire to provide good and funny memories for our young people, therefore we aim to take the gospel seriously, but not take ourselves seriously at all!
What was your biggest challenge initially, and how did you overcome it?
Initially, my biggest challenge was learning to trust God in the organisational side of youth ministry. It is very easy to get caught up in trying to sort every minor detail yourself, and micromanage the situation. As a leader, I felt a great responsibility to perform, and to perform well. Every activity I organised, I wanted to be perfect, and I wanted to impress my senior leadership. My heart was really full of pride, particularly because I knew I was gifted in leading youth, so I felt a great weight of expectation on my shoulders to rise to the high standards I had set for myself. God quickly convicted me of this sin in my heart. I knew that I had to rely on God’s strength and provision, and trust that he was sovereign over my leading. Issues of pride are deeply rooted in the heart, and the only way I can ever overcome it is to pray deeply and seriously that God would make the change for me! He has worked in me over the years that I have worked with the youth, to show me my failings and need for him. I now delight in handing my work over to him, rather than stressing and worrying massively in the run up to every youth event we ran. With leadership often comes pride, something that I am firmly convinced only God can remove from our hearts.
What keeps you going when you’re feeling frustrated, worn down, or just want a night off?
For me, when I am tired and worn out, it is remembering myself at that age that keeps me going. When I remember how influential youth group was in my faith, how watching the leaders and seeing how they lived as Christians inspired me to explore the idea of faith, I remember how youth ministry is all about dying to yourself. When you die to yourself and live purely for Christ, only then can you fully dedicate yourself to the young people that god has placed in your care. The nights when I am tempted to be selfish and prioritise myself over the young people, I remember that I became a Christian through youth ministry, and therefore God now needs me to do the same to help other young people. Amazingly, my relationship with them now could lead them to developing a relationship with Jesus! We are not essential in evangelism, however God does give us the joy of joining in, which is motivation enough to ignore those niggling whispers that tell you that you are knackered and really want to go home and snuggle into bed!
Any words of advice you’d give to others starting out in Youth Ministry?
Youth ministry is messy. It is tiring, and it is challenging. But it is also the most rewarding ministry, and seeing God work in a younger generation inspires me in my own faith, but also gives me hope that Jesus is not being forgotten by the world, and that the future of the Church family is safe in the hands of the young people that God is growing now!
–Lucy, Sheffield (UK)