Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Youth Ministry Lite #1

Youth Ministry Lite
By. Ashley Engleford

Welcome to the very 1st column of Youth Ministry Lite! I am honored to have the opportunity to share with you each week illustrations, lesson ideas, games, and personal experiences. To start here is a bit of my story: My life prior to accepting Christ was full of immoral relationships, drugs, and alcohol. My greatest accomplishment during those years of living my way was graduating from The University of Alabama ( Huntsville ) with my Bachelors in Biology and Chemistry. Since accepting Christ, my life has still been a struggle at times. I have learned that my circumstances will constantly change but my faith in Christ remains solid. The Lord has blessed me so much and done incredible transformations since the night I heard Him call my name at a revival.
My connection with the teens began the night I gave my testimony. I was a “newbie” (~ 2-3 months old). We had a packed room that night and my story captivated them, bringing some to tears (myself included). I was a sinner and I had traveled all the roads that led to destruction, the same roads they are tempted to walk down every day. I gained trust, respect, and credibility that night with them. The time I have spent with them since then has allowed me to form personal relationships which have allowed me a front row seat into their lives. I have to work to maintain that seat though. If I don’t continue to work to get to know them, if I don’t show them that I love them unconditionally, if I don’t show up for them, if they don’t see me living the life that I am teaching them to live, I lose that seat. They aren’t going to just let us in. The key is to go through the list of things I just provided consistently. No kid is a hopeless case.

Youth Ministry is a full-time job, even as a volunteer. I spend countless hours emailing the teens, giving them a ride, surfing the internet looking for illustrations, lesson ideas, games, preparing the lesson, and so on. I have a full-time job in my career field to pay the bills and put food on the table but I also am a full-time volunteer Youth Leader. My life’s purpose is Youth Ministry. It can be discouraging at times because maybe your teens aren’t stepping up like you want them too or maybe you don’t think some of them are really listening to the lesson. Know this; we can have a profound affect on their lives even under those circumstances.

I just began reading “Generation Change” by Zach Hunter. Zach is a teen who is following Gods’ Word by taking a stand against modern day slavery and challenging his peers to make some change of their own. I recommend this book to every teen and any youth leaders who want to challenge their students to be change. I want to highlight the website www.simplyyouthministry.com this week. At this site you can download free sermons, lesson notes, listen to a podcast on youth ministry, or buy resources. It has been a very helpful site for me. Well that’s it for this weeks’ column. I look forward to our next encounter and remember you have a partner in this fight.

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