Youth Ministry and Success Anxiety
As a youth pastor I suffer from “success anxiety.” I am anxious that the numbers in our youth ministry aren’t keeping up with the big youth ministries in town. I worry that if we don’t attract more students to our youth group, then people will wonder if I am the right person for the job. Maybe if I did more all-nighters or had a cool, young worship leader, then we would enjoy success.
Honestly the choice for my staff and I is between success based on numbers or success Jesus’ way through discipleship. Discipleship is not cool, hip or attractive. When Jesus called people to radical discipleship many turned away and stopped following Jesus. If we look at Jesus’ ministry on earth, he was a failure. He started with thousands and left with only eleven. Youth pastors would definitely lose their job if they oversaw an attendance decline like this.
How does Jesus’ model of discipleship impact youth ministry?
I believe that the first step is acknowledging that success according to Jesus is much different than the world judges success. Success is not hundreds of teenagers hanging out drinking coffee and listening to Coldplay-esque worship. Success is students who are committed to loving God and loving their neighbors for their lifetime. Ultimately, life change like this does not have as much to do with us but what the Holy Spirit does in the lives of our students. We create an atmosphere for the Holy Spirit to move and model lives that are devoted to Christ.
What do you think? How does Jesus’ model of discipleship change the way we do youth ministry?