On Driving With Oil, Part I

A vehicle’s oil is essential to both lubricate the engine and absorb the heat produced while in motion. It collaborates with many parts to perform the varied drive requirements. Over the passage of time, this oil wears, and becomes ineffective in performing these functions.

At the lube instant-oil-change stop, the driver is presented with a “drive-thru” oil change experience. The oil type is chosen and every driver has the option to sit in a designated waiting area or even remain in the driver’s seat. The car will exit—within minutes—with a new sticker carrying the next oil change date or mileage. Three thousand miles later, another “drive-thru” oil change will be experienced, and thus goes the cycle for any car.

As this Youth Ministry Supplement continues to survey the “Youth Ministry Vehicle” (see Parts 1 and 2 in the October 2018 Gleaner, p. 9 and the December 2018 Gleaner, p. 7), I would be remiss not to explore “Driving With Oil.” Youth leaders understand that leading with a copious supply of oil is essential to the success of their ministry to youth and young adults. This oil is the abiding presence and power of the Holy Spirit.

Unlike the vehicle that can drive many miles, and function for a long period of time between oil changes every three months, the youth leader’s efficiency is solely dependent upon a daily, constant infilling of the Holy Spirit.

This aligns with the significance of Christ’s words in Luke 4:18, 19, KJV, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.”

Currently, youth ministries built on “quick lube stops” often stand at rival with those that run on oil that is changed at home. A quick, drive-thru oil change declares, “Sit back, relax, and receive the oil of your choice. You do not have to lift a finger or a tool—no effort is required on your part. It is quick, stress-free, and accessible.” On the contrary, the home-based, self-changed oil change says, “Get down low; allow for contact with the dirt, a few bruises, and greasy fingers. Work hard, do your part. It may also be tedious and time-consuming.”

Youth leaders who serve under the influence of the “quick fix,” “instant-oil change” modality are those who depend on others to lubricate their lives. They lean upon the hype of the experience and the quick turnover of youth ministry processes and people. It follows that these types of youth leaders are often chosen because they project the most hype, are charismatic, entertaining, and/or extroverted.

Today, God is issuing an urgent call for youth leaders to seek a daily closet, home-based, oil experience—a daily baptism of His Holy Spirit. Not merely through a quick WhatsApp devotional, a YouTube sermon, or another instant devotional fix. Rather, He is ready to anoint those who seek Him while He may be found; who search for Him with all of their hearts, and are willing to be sanctified through His truth. He is looking for those who are daily hungering and thirsting after righteousness, who are lowly and humble in their service commitments.

Accordingly, our Almighty God is well poised to lubricate our lives with the oil of the Holy Spirit, and absorb the heat of trials and temptations that we face on the youth ministry terrain.

David McKenzie is the director for Youth, Young Adult, Pathfinder, and Adventurer ministries in the Atlantic Union Conference

This article first appeared in the February 2019 issue of The Atlantic Union Gleaner magazine, page 8.