Using YOUR Gifts To Reach Students
The beauty of humanity and the beauty of God is that He made us all different. None of us are the same and while some of us may share similar gifts you would be very, very hard-pressed to find two youth pastors who are both good at all of the same things.
For instance, I connect well with the athletic students because that is an area I have been gifted in. I have a long history in sports and I am able to use that to connect with students. On the other hand, I do not connect well to the gamers. I am not good at video games, and I don’t really play them. That is not who I am and it makes it tougher for me to connect to students who love video games.
That is why we need teams, so we can lean on one another. But even further than that, you have a special ability God has given you for a reason. You are unique and the things that you personally are good at can be used to reach students for Jesus!
The problem is a lot of the things we are good at do not fit into the youth ministry box
The programming in youth ministry, while it may look different depending on the church, is basically very similar. There is a box many of us fit into when it comes to the way we do ministry. A lot of times this is because it has always been done that way, but sometimes it is because it is simply practical. There are things that can be used for ministry and things that can’t. There are things we can do in our programming, and things we can’t. For many of us, there are skills or talents we possess that just simply don’t fit into the way we do ministry.
For instance, you may be excellent at javelin throwing and that’s awesome! But it would really be a stretch to fit that into a normal Wednesday or Sunday programming. You see what I mean? You may be awesome at yodeling (and I envy you) and you might be able to do it on stage every once in a while but other than that it really doesn’t fit into the youth ministry box.
I struggled with this growing up. Every time my church, or school, or camp or wherever had a talent show I was unable to participate. Not because I didn’t have talents but because my talents didn’t fit into the talent show box. I wasn’t able to sing, dance, act, balance things on my head or swallow swords; my talent was baseball. I couldn’t really showcase it on the stage. I mean, I could have gone up and just chucked a ball as hard as I could but it probably wouldn’t be the safest thing to do.
Too often we are unable to use our specific gifts and talents in youth ministry because they do not fit into the youth ministry box.
We need to think outside the youth ministry box about our talents
Does baseball fit into my programming? No, it doesn’t, but I learned that my ministry is bigger than the youth ministry box. It does not have to fit into my programming because my ministry is bigger than my programming. I took me a while to realize that ministry is people, not buildings and programs. So, when I do ministry through baseball, or surfing, or whatever, it is still ministry because ministry is about people even though it might look completely different.
[bctt tweet=”My ministry is bigger than my programming.” username=”ys_scoop”]
I took my talents in baseball and joined up as an assistant coach for the high school baseball team. My talent in baseball doesn’t fit in the church. But it fits in ministry and I am using it to reach students. Oh, and did I mention, the students on the baseball team don’t come to my youth group. I have had a few come here and there and that is awesome. But for the most part, they don’t come to my actual church gathering. But I do frequently get to have conversations and get phone calls from students about their lives, decisions they have to make and even about God.
Go out and use YOUR talents!
Your talents may not fit in your church setting, but your ministry is bigger than just what happens inside the box—literally the church building, and figuratively, the ministry box that we all subscribe to.
You’re good at music? It doesn’t just have to stay on the worship stage. Go teach guitar to students at an after school club. You’re a mechanic? Go help students fix cars. You’re gifted in woodworking? Go build things with students or for students.
Your talents are not the strengths of your ministry, staff, or church. They are YOUR specific strengths, use them!
God has given them to you for a reason. So, think about it. Pause and write down 3 things that you are very talented and gifted in. Now, pause and write down 3 ways that you can use those gifts and talents to reach students outside of the youth ministry box. Now, GO and do it!
TODD JONES has been in youth ministry for 10 years and has a passion for reaching lost students and training youth workers to do the same. He is the founder of STOKEDONYOUTHMINISTRY.COM, a speaker, author, and pastor. When Todd is not writing or speaking he enjoys surfing, baseball, and most importantly hanging out with his awesome wife and three beautiful daughters. You can connect with Todd at STOKEDONYOUTHMINISTRY.COM, THETODDJONES.COM, or on Twitter @THETODD_JONES, or Instagram @TODD_JONES.
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.