The lives of students operate on many felt needs. The urgency of the immediate dictates majority of what life is about for them. What is the "NOW" factor of social media, Insta-Gram, Facebook conversations pushes students towards fitting in someway & somehow in a world that can crush anyones identity.
Student Ministry has a misconception in that "everyone belongs". We really want everyone to fit in, we want each student to have a voice, we desire each student to feel a part of the community and all of this often gets really complicated because each student is drastically different.
Recently I sat with a student whose family just started coming to church, FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER about 5 months ago. This student is asking the basic question, "We've not had church for the last 16 years of my life, why now?". This student feels out of place in a small group setting when another student asks "you remember what Moses did right?". This student looks at people raising their hands during a song of praise and wonders what that is about. This student has NEVER read the Christmas story out of Luke 2, till he was asked to two weeks ago.
By certain standards this student doesn't seem to "fit in" to our student ministry. He doesn't know the biblical stories, the lingo or what is or isn't a part of church. He has a lot of questions & is skeptical of the "whole church thing" (as they put it). So why have they not missed a small group meeting or a large group event in the past 5 months?
Because they have been accepted.
There has been several students along with myself who've come along side this student & communicated that they are accepted. Their skeptical questions are accepted. Their cynical remarks about church are acceptable. Our desire has been to help this student feel a part of the community by accepting them. We trust that the Holy Spirit will move in divine ways in this student's life, all we need to do is care for them as we would any other student who walks through the doors of our student ministry.
As a youth pastors we need to really be more thoughtful about how we communicate acceptance of students verses forcing them to conform to "what is acceptable" or "this is how Christian teens should act". What if we cared more about accepting them for them, love them authentically & let God's Spirit do the transformation?
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