To figure out what someone thinks is important, you follow the three Ts:
Time, Talent and Treasure
We’re given only a limited amount of time on this earth, so when we spend a lot of time on something, we must think it’s important. When we focus our talents on something, we’re not just doing it as a hobby, we’re invested. And when we spend our treasure—MONEY—that is the ultimate sign of what is important.
Youth ministers and youth ministry is no different. If we think something is important for our ministry, we’ll spend tons of our time, talent and treasure to make it work. We invest a lot in things we think are important. Judging by what I see youth ministers spend a lot of time and effort on, here are few things we think are important:
- Youth Group Names
- Youth Group Logos
- Exciting Games
- The Perfect Curriculum
- An Awesome Youth Room
We spend so much time trying to come up with the perfect youth group name and create an awesome logo, get the best curriculum and start youth group with the latest viral game in our awesome youth room. The problem is …
They. Do. Not. Matter.
Teens don’t care. The lost students in your local school aren’t all amped up to come to “ZORT” on Wednesday. They think your game of Hungry Hungry Hippos looks dumb. Your logo is cool and all, but compared to the marketing they see every day it’s kind of lame. Your youth room with the pallet walls reminds them of their summer job stocking shelves at the local store.
Why are we wasting time on things that don’t matter? Stop it. The reason students are not coming to church has nothing to do with marketing and everything to do with not addressing their needs. They see church as a place that’s boring, worthless and unimportant. If they do show up, it’s not because of the awesome curriculum you wrote. More than likely, your perfect amazing curriculum bored them even more than they imagined.
These things are nice, but in the end they don’t matter. No one in the history of the world has been saved because of a youth group logo. It would be like going out and buying a $40,000 car because you loved the shape of the cupholders. Cupholders are nice. Cupholders are, after a fashion, important. Personally, I love not spilling my Coke all over the car. But no one buys a car because of cupholders.
So what is the answer? What matters to teens? What is important to them? Here are five things teens in your community think are important…
1) A place where they matter
Teens need to know they are important, that they are valuable. The church provides THE place where they matter, because God loves them so much that He gave His son for them. They matter to God. Ultimately, they can only find this in Jesus.
2) A place where they belong
Teens need friends that genuinely care about them. They need people that love them. Our youth groups need to be places that are about belonging. Our youth group should be the most loving place that students can find.
3) A place where they can make a difference
Teens have an intrinsic desire to change the world. We can give them that opportunity, both through service and through evangelism. If your students are not making a difference, they’re not being fulfilled and are only going through the motions of Christianity. If they’re doing that, they’ll not think it’s important.
4) A place that encourages them
The world tears teens down. The church should be the place that builds them up, not just another place where students are torn apart.
5) A place where people invest in them
Teens long for people to see something in them, to see a hidden spark that they themselves can’t see. Teens seek out this affirmation like a wanderer in the desert seeks out water. Your church can pour life into students and they will respond.
Don’t get me wrong; it’s not bad to have a youth group name or logo. A curriculum is important. Games are fun. A youth room is cool. These things are not sinful—they’re just not the most important things. Spend your time on the most important things, and then do the other stuff if you have time.
What is most important to your ministry? Do you think it makes an eternal difference? Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!