“After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, it came to pass that the Lordspoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, saying: 2 “Moses My servant is dead. Now therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them—the children of Israel. 3 Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you, as I said to Moses. 4 From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the River Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your territory. 5 No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you.” – Joshua 1:1-5
Just recently, our General Overseer, Dr. Tim Hill and our International Youth Directors, David Blair and Rob Bailey formed a movement within our denomination called the “Jeremiah Generation.” You can follow the movement on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. It is an emphasis on this next generation and I so appreciate what they are doing to reach our students!
Some say that we are leading a generation that does not know God. I agree with that, but the way student ministry was done in the 80’s and 90’s cannot be done today. If you try it, you will lose a generation. You cannot let go of the Presence of God. That’s first and foremost.
The key to student ministry is in one simple word: relationships. Student Pastor, you are the connection between your students and God. If you don’t seek Him, your students won’t either. If you don’t pray, don’t expect your kids to either.
I am not a professional in student ministry, but I do eat, sleep, and breath student every single day of my life. There isn’t one day that goes by where I’m not talking to one of my students, somehow someway. The world is changing every single day. Social media has taken over our world and people think that social media is the devil. It can be a god, but I promise, if you learn to use it the right way, you will learn how to communicate and reach the next generation.
So, how do we win a generation?
First, be consistent. Students want consistency. A while back, we were going through some car trouble and had to rent a few vehicles and my three year old would say, “Dad, what car is this? Where is the black truck?” My son hates change. And so do your students. There are too many people who want to use student ministry as a step up for their next place, rather than being where you are and allowing God to bless where you are. Be where you are! Get in the students lives every week. Don’t miss one week. I know life is busy and tough, trust me, but you might be the only consistent Jesus that they see, because they don’t see it at home. I’m going to go ahead and be honest and say it, but a huge percent of my students drive themselves to church, because their parents won’t bring them. And you say your job isn’t important? Sometimes you won’t know what to say, but your presence of being there will speak to them.
Secondly, pray for them. Every day, you need to pray for them. If you’re a student pastor, a leader, or whatever, if you’re not praying for them, go ahead and resign right now. I believe God answers all prayers in His timing, not ours. So, if I’m praying for a situation to happen, it might not happen when or how I want it to, but I know that there is a God in Heaven who hears every prayer and catches every tear and stores it up for just the right time. Pray for protection. Pray for God to save, heal, deliver, baptize, change, all of the above!
Lastly, believe in them. Some students just want to know you believe in them and that you’re there. You have to balance love and discipline. At the end of 2017, God spoke to me about 2018 for our student ministry. He told me that we were going after lost family members. The majority of your students probably don’t come from religious backgrounds or even own a Bible. Some might call me weird, but I will always believe in every student that walks into our church. Believing in them is more than just saying you believe in them. Believing in them is loving them through situations, telling them the hard truth, encouraging them on a weekly basis, and continuing to preach the Gospel to them in a public setting. Belief for this next generation is fading. People have paved the way for this next generation, but our calling is now and must be answered! You have to believe in them even when they don’t believe in themselves. Student ministry is a roller coaster. One minute they are up on a spiritual high and the next minute, they haven’t come to church in a while. Obedience is your responsibility, the outcome of their life is God’s.
My children are the Jeremiah Generation! Our students are the Jeremiah Generation! They have gifts and talents that don’t look like the older generation, but I am pleading and begging to whoever is reading this, teach them how to protect their gifts, teach them how to use their gifts, and release them to use their gifts for the Kingdom of God! It might not sound or look like you think, but God has given them each a unique gift to use. And it’s our responsibility to train them, equip them, and send them out.
Pray for God to give you ideas how to reach them. Stay fresh yourself. Keep the main thing the main thing. God has you in the palm of His hand. 2018 is going to be greater than what we’ve ever seen. It is the year of signs and miracles. God is still in control! Do all that you can do and watch God do what you can’t do! I love you, Student Pastor! I am praying for you and the Jeremiah Generation!