From Glossy to Authentic | What appeals to students now?

Destiny Robles
August 27th, 2020

There is pressure from all angles to be a “good” Christian.

As we have seen in the last few months, the emphasis of getting things right has never been so high.

And, if we are honest, most of us are drowning in failed expectations. If you make one decision, you are awful and if you do another, you are worse.

  • Can we all be open enough to say we have no idea what is happening?
  • That we have never been so busy and stressed before? Perhaps never felt more alone? 
  • But we are Christians, and leaders, and are supposed to have it all together, right? 

Let me tell you a little about things for me.

From the moment things hit with this pandemic, my heart was burdened by the weight of the many lost and broken people and what the youth, that already dealt with depression, were feeling and going to be feeling in this lock-down. The pain and depression that people were feeling: I felt for them and I was a total mess. 

I am a planner, and everything I dreamed and planned for went out the window. How to do ministry went out the window. I was sad because I had some youth ministries lined up to partner with me for a girls youth conference in the area. It was exciting. We named the event “Fearless + authentic.” Little did I know the Lord would work on my heart in diving deeper in what that phrase meant for my life and ministry as a whole.

I tried to plan what online youth would/could look like and utilized incredible resources from other leaders in youth ministry and… I planned again. Then another thing would change and another, and none of it felt right. “Zoom” youth group had to began to look, one word: real. I am tremendously grateful for this simple word “real.” God used this word to give me direction. As I showed transparency in how I was “really” feeling, it provided open doors for my youth to share their hearts: All the fears, disappointments, and frustrations. I couldn’t speak hope into them and not share the real, emotions we all were dealing with.

As leaders, we desperately want to make sure we are speaking truth and life into people.

Part of that is letting people know we make the mistakes. We do them a disservice when we communicate it’s not okay for us to have bad days, sadness, frustrations, etc.

Look, I am definitely talking to myself in this. We are all guilty of putting on the “all is good happy face.” But now, now is the time for us to rebuild our youth ministries into a place of authentic connection and relationships. Students can spot a fake from a mile away.

So, one of the faults in ministry has been a persona we as Christians put up, making sure we were good examples, that we are perfect followers of Christ. All that did was load more pressure onto our students and us. Today we get to make a decision to live our faith journeys as real as it has ever been.

This generation craves and needs it. It is time to be REAL.

One of the things that I have told youth students for the past few years is to be true to the person God created us to be. When we know what real looks and sounds like, we will be wiser in who we allow to speak into our lives and into our circle of friends.

I have said this years ago and say it still today: Know the real to spot the fake.” 

A few questions for you to ponder: 

  • Do you know what real looks like (You do not have to know what fake looks like if you know what the real does)?
  • Are you living life authentically and transparent with your church staff, team, and students (Your coworkers, volunteer leaders, and students need to see what being real looks like)?
  • Are you the same person everywhere you go (Your character will follow you and the true you will come to light)?

Be authentic and true to the person God specifically designed you to be. You do not have to be like any other youth pastor or church. What has God called YOU to be? Do that and be that and do it to the glory of God.

This generation and future generations of the Church need leaders who are men and women of their word, can show their faults, and truly point to the One who gives grace and power to make things right. 

Destiny Robles

Destiny serves as a Director of Youth Ministry in Modesto, Ca. She has been a youth pastor since 2015 and has been in youth ministry for over 8 years. Currently working on her Master’s of Ministerial Leadership through Southeastern University. Destiny loves to write poetry, spoken word, rap, and has a passion for creativity. You can get connected with her on social media @destinycherise

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.