Every day in August, my inbox is flooded with advertisements for the latest curriculum in youth ministry. There are packets that promise transformative explorations of scripture, books packed full of “fresh ideas,” and top 10 ways of reaching teens. But despite all the shiny packages and “free shipping” offers, they do not hold the key to setting up a wonderful year in youth ministry.
Instead, that comes as I approach the monumental task of recruiting leaders for this year’s programming. Every August, my fellow ministers and I thumb our way through the directory as we wonder who will serve as our leaders and teachers for people of all ages. This year in youth ministry, I am looking to for around 8 adults and in children’s ministry, Renee is looking for 13 adults.
We create lists and visit one another’s offices to see if we have left out anyone. We then begin our various methods of asking people to serve. We craft emails. We make phone calls. We pray. And then we pray some more.
For our ministries are nothing without the adults that lead them. We can craft the greatest curriculums and we can plan training events. But when Promotion Sunday rolls around and we begin our new year in Bible Study and Wednesday Night Programming, who will be the ones who show up and bring the lessons to life?
On Sundays, who will be the ones who will lead in their sharing about the living of their days? As youth open up about what they are dealing with in their lives before our studies begin, who will be the ones who then are able to take those stories and hold them before scripture to see together where God is moving in our lives? With the stories of our faith open before them, who will be the ones to wonder alongside the youth who God is and who God is calling us to be?
On Wednesdays, who will be the ones to lead games and delight in the youth’s laughter? Who will be the ones who help create a welcoming environment that allows youth to reflect, explore, and grow as they contemplate the question – what is life and how are we to live?
So in these early days of August, I will order the curriculum. I will think deeply about how to divide the youth into different groups. I will dream about the ways that God will move this year that will surprise us. And I will send out the invitation.
WANTED: Adults who delight in youth, love God, and are willing to offer up their gifts in confidence and humility before a God that is able to transform our efforts into life-giving ministry.
As I wait to see who responds “yes” to my invitations, I will stand with my shoes off before the burning bush. I will do my best to wait patiently to see who steps forward. And in the moments when I start to panic and wonder if it will all come together, I will trust in a God that continues to call the most unlikely people and I will imagine rooms full of adults whose “yes” will transform into embodied words of hope and love to those who need them most.