I remember the first time I laid eyes on my wife… It was exactly 11 years ago tomorrow, at a student ministry New Year’s Eve party. There she was – blonde hair, blue eyes, bubbly personality, athletic, and a great family! At least for me, there was an instant attraction that made me want to come back for more! Now to be totally honest, she would tell you a completely different story. She saw a cocky college kid who had a weird eye. While there was not much of an attractional appeal on her end, she was nice enough to at least give me the time of day.
After I moved from Michigan to Florida, I made my first big move and asked Autumn out on a date. Again, she didn’t see it as a date, but a friendly dinner and game of putt-putt golf. We spent several hours that evening talking about life, family, movies, sports, and more! She became more and more attractive every time we got together, and yes, she even began falling for me lol!
Although my wife is the hottest woman on the planet, the friendship I have with her is far more attractive than the blonde hair or blue eyes. The relationship we have may not always be perfect, but I know she is there for me at all times – no matter how good I am at something or how many times I fail. She is there to love me, pray for me, pick me up, and kick me in the butt when necessary. Now that is attractive!
“The Google” defines attractive as ‘pleasing or appealing to the senses…’ Too often I believe churches look at student ministry as an avenue of appealing devices, lights, sounds, food, and more! In other words… if we have the loudest, rockiest band, the biggest light show, the craziest leaders, the best coffee and pizza, the wildest games and events, and the most emotionally attractive message we will draw hundreds, if not thousands of students to our location! While that may be true, what is it actually accomplishing? What are we truly drawing those students to? Are we just filling seats with crazy middle and high school students, or are truly seeing lives impacted for the cause of Christ? What type of life journey are we taking those students on? Is Christ at the center of everything we do and say, or is he sitting in the back row watching from a distance?
Now please hear me out for a minute… I believe in attractional ministry. I love loud worship, crazy light shows, insanely wild leaders, and yes… we even serve coffee and pizza every Wednesday night! But our focus is on sharing Christ through intentional conversations, relationships, message, and worship. I am not nearly concerned as much with our worship set or service structure as I am with the amount of time and energy our leaders are pouring into their own personal relationships with Christ. I am more concerned about how much time our small group leaders and speakers are spending in prayer and spiritual preparation than I am about whether or not they follow the exact list of questions given to them ahead of time.
As leaders, we must rely on the direction of the Holy Spirit – within every individual conversation and overall service. Our students must experience the love and compassion of Christ, while being challenged with the truths of God’s Word and what it means to have a relationship with Him. Music will impact people, but it alone cannot eternally change lives. Food will draw students, especially if it is free, but it will most likely not be the turning point in somebody accepting Christ as their personal Savior. The moment the crazy, insane middle school leader gets a student to eat a blended McDonald’s Happy Meal will most likely not be the turning point that causes somebody to see their need for a Savior.
While creating a program or service that is culturally attractive for our students, we must never miss our purpose in carrying out the ministry God has called us to…creating a space for students to experience Jesus Christ! Just like it is the relationship I have with my wife that makes her most attractive, it must be the relationship one can have with Jesus Christ that makes our ministries so attractive! My prayer is that we have students returning each and every week because of their desire to become more like Christ.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself and your leadership team in regards to an Attractive Christ Centered Student Ministry…
- What are the main reasons students attend your student ministry?
- Have you defined and communicated the vision to your entire leadership team?
- How much time do you and your leadership teams spend in prayer before every service or event?
- What are you doing to encourage and help hold accountable the spiritual growth of your leaders?
- Is there more time spent on the logistics of the service than on intentional relationships amongst students and leaders?
- Do you and your leaders display the same amount of intentionality and passion during the message and small groups as they do during game time and worship?
- Do you spend more time researching the latest craziest games or on studying how to clearly teach the truth and love of God’s Word to students?