Youth Ministry Vehicle, Part 2

Fuel. Every car has the capacity to store and utilize fuel as needed for efficient function. Correspondingly, God’s youth leaders are called to be filled with the Holy Spirit, to walk and talk with Him, so that they can ever flow out to others. They embrace the fact that it is “not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts”—Zechariah 4:6.

Unlike some car drivers, they do not empty their tanks, and then remember to refill; rather, they strive to minister with tanks that are continuously refilled through the spiritual disciplines of Bible study, witnessing, and prayer. Moment by moment, the request is “Jesus come, and fill me now.”

Transmission. Continuing the ideas expressed in Part I of this article (see October 2018 Gleaner, p. 9), many would say that the automatic transmission found in most of today’s vehicles was a positive change in the automobile industry from the manual transmissions of old. As technology moves forward, the continuously variable transmission (CVT) is quickly moving across the car manufacturing industry.

I submit that youth ministries today has followed the automobile transmission paradigm shift. Unlike the traditional automatic transmission we are familiar with, the CVT is gearless, and transitions without the predictable sounds of changing gears. In view of the fact that it is “continuously variable,” CVT is always ready for whatever conditions the drive-wheel will encounter, including varying terrains and speed changes.

Today’s ministry needs reside among a population that is fast-paced, quick turn-over-oriented, impatient, and individualistic, yet service oriented. Yes, youth leaders need to be flexible; yes, they need to be adaptable; however, like the silent changes seen with CVTs, they are called to be observant and diligent in making changes to meet this generation’s needs—sometimes, without making a sound. There are times when changes need to be experienced, and not just discussed.

For example, many “shifts” are often needed in the very mindset of leaders. Thus, they do not need to be announced, or heard. Instead, like the workings of the CVT, very quietly and unrecognizably, shifts are made to adapt, adjust, and situationally meet needs.

Stop Gracefully. Every car stops. How is it that a car can come to a full stop, yet the engine keeps running? How is it that youth leaders can stop serving—due to illness, resignation, transition, and the youth and young adult ministries keep driving forward? Jesus is the Engine of youth ministry. Youth leaders and youth often function as His transmission and drive-wheel systems, respectively, yet, Jesus remains the direct Power Source at every level of youth ministry.

Youth leaders are not to think that they are requisite to the success of the ministry. None is to think that all will cease because they are no longer serving. Be prepared to stop gracefully, and give way to others whom Jesus calls.

Today’s youth leaders, who positively impact youth and young adults, recognize that they need to be Holy Spirit-led, situational in their practices, ready to avoid “one-size-fits-all” mindsets or methods, and ready to step aside so that mentees can lead.

May God’s anointed youth ministry vehicle continue to travel forward, and lead many youth and young adults to God’s kingdom.

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

This article first appeared in the December 2018 issue of The Atlantic Union Gleaner magazine, page 2.