Go To Them

June 9th, 2017

Some of the best advice I’ve gotten in my career has come via side comments that people have made on their way to a completely different point. One such example is when a colleague and I were talking and he said,

“…because of course, the more we go to them, the more they come to us.”

Mind. Blown.

Since he used the words “of course,” I did my best to give my “well yes, of course,” expression. But inside I was going through all the ways this made so much sense in my ministry.  That single sentence addressed at least half of the problems I was having with students at my church.  To this day, I have absolutely no idea what my friend’s larger point was. I have no doubt it was brilliant but I can only handle so much genius in one conversation and “go to them” took up all my bandwidth.

This has become my go-to for when I need to do a self-check. It’s also become the first question I ask my leaders when doing reviews. (i.e., “In what ways – and how often – are you going to them?”)

Why We Should Go to Them

And of course, my friend would say “of course” because this is such a foundational aspect of the Christian faith. From the Garden of Eden to the birth of Christ, we have evidence of a God that is doing what He can to come down and dwell among us. We, therefore, should go and do likewise!  But for some reason this idea of having a measureable aspect and a first question of “have I gone to them lately?” has been so helpful that it’s changed my ministry.

This is the sentence we as youth workers should be asking ourselves every day. Write this out and stick it on your wall. Get it framed and make sure to put it where you’ll always see it.

Ways to Go to Them

But I think it’s important to note that “going to them” looks different depending on our personalities, stage of life, area we are serving, etc.  When I was in college and worked at a church an hour away, my “going to them” was calling each student every week. When I lived in New Mexico, the principal of the local public high school invited me to have lunch with the students and the parents gave me a season pass for all the sports games. In South Carolina, I was at a football game every Friday and at least one other sport on another day of the week. I also served as a substitute teacher in one of the local private schools. Now that I’m married with kids and living in the northeast, it’s a little bit trickier. I spend a lot of time (and money) at Starbucks. I go to concerts and theater productions when I can, but it’s not as much as I’d like. I leave a lot of voicemail messages.

But in all of these contexts, the idiom rings true.

[bctt tweet=”The more you go to them, the more they come to you.” username=”ys_scoop”]

So go.

Go to them.

Jonathan Hobbs is the Director of Youth Ministries at the Church of the Good Samaritan in Paoli, Pennsylvania. He has worked in youth ministry for almost 20 years, including churches in New Jersey, New Mexico, South Carolina, and Pennsylvania. He has spoken and/or led worship for multiple camps, retreats, and events around the country and has written multiple articles for blogs, newspapers, and magazines.  He also co-wrote/edited a book called “Don’t Do This” which is full of stories about failures in youth ministry. (Something he knows a lot about).  He is the founder of J3 Youth Ministry (www.j3youthministry.com), and is one of the hosts of the J3 Youth Ministry podcast. He took karate in high school because he thought it would help make him cool. He was wrong. Jonathan and his wife, Carolyn, have two beautiful daughters, Kaylin and Julia. He loves golf, can juggle two balls skillfully, and does a halfway decent impression of Kermit the Frog. He’s also a big fan of the Oxford comma. Follow him on Twitter @JONHOBBSTWEETS.


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