They looked for a way to arrest him, but they were afraid of the crowd because the people held that he was a prophet. (Matthew 21:46 - NIV)
A couple of years ago, a friend asked if I would help him put some bath board behind his tub. Of course, I volunteered for the project before he learned the hard way that when it comes to construction skills in my immediate family, I got the short end of the stick. A little job that should have taken two 4x8 sheets of material ended up taking four and costing more. Good thing I live by the rule that "spackle covers a multitude of sins." That same principle can be effectively applied to our ministries. Let's really think about it.
Cracks And Holes
If you notice what the dictionary says about spackle, most definitions use the words "to fill cracks or holes." Those five words have more meaning in ministry than you might initially think. Between our relationships with students that are often spread thin throughout the church and community, there are countless other individuals who influence the lives of young people.
We know that relationships with the pastor of the church and the parents of the teens are significant. Connecting with these folks must be a priority. We can't effectively minister under the vision of a pastor we don't have an intimate relationship with; our ministries are an extension of the responsibility he/she has in their role as the shepherd.
Additionally, when it comes to parents we must remember that they have the most influence on the spiritual development of their young person. Now, let's talk about the other people we affectionately call "spackle."
We viewed the power of the people in Mel Gibson's, The Passion of the Christ. The scenes that depicted an angry crowd parading Jesus before Pontius Pilot to act as judge and jury showed us the influence of the public. Prior to that event the Jewish leaders were plotting a scheme to have Jesus arrested because they were afraid of their own people as depicted in today's text. There is a valuable lesson for us to learn from this.
"Many youth leaders have learned the hard way that putting all our eggs in the basket of student contact can get us worn-out, burned-out or thrown-out."
The people in our churches and the public in our communities have real opinions, and those attitudes are very valid. Too often, I hear young youth leaders make statements like, "I don't care what they think." That is a dangerous mindset. When I was about 16 years old, my mother made a statement to me that I will never forget, "Tim, if people don't like you for who you are that's their problem, but right now, you're being an idiot."
The truth hurts, and we must care what others think about our youth ministries. Their mindset matters to those they influence and that public opinion can have an incredible impact upon our effectiveness with young people.
Once again, it comes down to where we spend our time in ministry. Many youth leaders have learned the hard way that putting all our eggs in the basket of student contact can get us worn-out, burned-out, or thrown-out. Recognizing the power of the people can help remedy those undesired outcomes and so much more. The relationships we build within the congregation and community provide a platform for us to communicate the proper context of our ministry activities.
Here is an important rule to consider: Lack of communication fosters suspicion. Jeanne Mayo says it this way, "If people are not up on what you are doing, they'll be down on it." Sad but true!
Practically speaking there is no way we cannot build relationships with countless people; however, we can intentionally influence key individuals. Here are three helpful hints that can set us up for greater success in this area:
Take the time to prayerfully target key people in your church or community with influence. As you pray consider Luke 2:52, "And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men. Ask God to provide you with favor with powerful people.
Too often we become entrenched in youth ministry. In short, we get in routines that can become difficult ruts to get out of. We need to be visible in other arenas. Consider joining a golf league, hanging out at a local coffee shop, or shopping in a different grocery store.
Take your youth ministry on the road. How often does the community see your young people out doing something for others? Seriously consider planning a monthly service project that gets your young people caring for significant social issues and needs in your area.
Gaps And Gossip
Time in between events and activities creates unwanted results. The gaps in visibility allow gossip to rear its ugly head. We need a product to prevent this problem. Thank God for spackle. People who know us and our ministries have the ability to stop rumors and rumblings when we are not in the public eye or when things awry. They literally fill the cracks and holes in the relationships we don't have and stop damage from further spreading.
As you evaluate people's perception and public opinion of your youth ministry, consider the time you allocate to connecting with congregation and community members. They are valuable tools in our fight to reach students with the Gospel and must not be overlooked.
Pray about that today and remember that youth ministry is all about relationships.
Timothy Eldred is the President of One Passion Worldwide (OPW) in Branson, MO and the founder of 1:1 Solutions Seminars. While he travels extensively teaching principles of relationship-based ministry to churches, he continue to serve as the Teaching Pastor of New Beginnings Christian Family Fellowship in Six Lakes, MI. Tim resides in Edmore, MI with his wife, Cindy, and their two sons.
Visit One Passion Worldwide at www.onepassion.com