There is a new phrase rattling around the youth ministry world; it is new but it represents an age-old principle that has its roots in the beginnings of the church. This new phrase is SLAMM, which stands for Student Led Adult Mentored Ministry. It is being championed by groups such as Youthmark, Youth Missions International, Christian Endeavor International, and others! Frankly, it is a simple way of saying that adults mentoring and equipping students in ministry is a philosophy that works to produce students who are disciples that take an active part in the kingdom work of creating mor
As a small city minister from central VT I am often asked why I spend so much time studying urban issues. I can totally understand this question because I must admit that I do spend an inordinate amount of time reading urban ministry books, blogs, and studies. This is a practice that started for me while at Moody Graduate School in Chicago and it is a direct result of my time studying theology, practice, and principles of urban ministry with my friend and mentor Dr. John Fuder.
This year marks a milestone in my ministry that I frankly never thought I would see. When my church graduates our seniors this year, we will be graduating a class that I met as 1st graders. As I finish my 11th year and enter my 12th here at Calvary Bible Church, I am astounded by how wonderfully blessed I have been to be a part of this family. I am also dreadfully aware that my tenure here is well outside the average for those of us in Student Ministry. In my research I have seen the average tenure of student/youth pastors is 18 to 24 months.
One of the most heartbreaking parts of being a youth minister is watching students decide to walk away from the Lord to “live it up while I am young”. Sure, sometimes students are going to make sinful decisions simply because they are human beings with a sin problem, and frankly that is something we all do. But what I am talking about is the willful decisions to set aside their Christianity so that it ceases to be an impediment to fun. It is a decision that in every case leads to consequences, baggage, and, in to many cases, a complete rejection of Christ.
Having spent the past 18 years engaged in student ministry I have come to appreciate the thousands of men and women who are pouring selflessly into our youth! I appreciate their heart, passion, and clear commitment to impact a generation for Christ. It is wonderful to see their heartfelt desire to influence those that I refer to as the younger but current generation of His church.
As we take off for Germany I can’t help but be filled with excitement and expectation about what our Lord is about to do in and thru this amazing group of student ministers. As a youth leader I have never been more proud than I am right now of these men and women of God. They have chosen to embark on a journey to a distant land where they will be stretched, challenged, and changed. A journey where they don’t know the language beyond a rudimentary level, a journey filled with more questions than answers, and a journey to a country that is ripe for a heavenly harvest.
This past week I have been blessed to watch our students prove yet again why we need to shift our thinking in Youth Ministry. Our church runs a VBS program where students comprise more than half of the staff.
What is wrong with the Youth ministry Machine of today? Perhaps we don’t have enough programs for students? Maybe we don’t have enough resources available? Or there is of course the chance that the problem with youth ministry is that the youth fail to see our genius? These are the kinds of questions we have spent the past two days praying over and discussing at the NNYM Youth Ministry Executive Council in Costa Mesa, CA. So what have we learned so far? Let’s look at the three options posed above:
What if Prayer became a part of our Ministry DNA! I believe with all my heart that it would be a game changer and would revolutionize youth ministry and us as well. As my friend Greg Stier said to me at a recent prayer gathering of national and international youth leaders “prayer needs to be the engine that drives the train of Evangelism (ministry)”. Or put another way it can’t simply be an add on to our ministry; it is a vital component of any ministry that hopes to have kingdom value!
As I watched our students engage in the simple act of raking a lawn I realized how wonderfully complete their transition from a youth group into an active Endeavor society was! As the event unfolded it was clear that they have a great deal to learn about planning and coordinating details of such events. However, it was equally clear that this team of intrepid young servants is up to the task! As they went about serving several elderly and in-firmed people in our community I saw them blessing and being blessed.