In the days following a youth service I’m always wondering whether the sermon I gave stuck or not. I worked hard (usually) to prepare a message that would bring the truths of the Word of God right to where these students are at in life. The idea is that this stuff should apply immediately to where they’re going to be at that week, in most cases. But what I’ve found in my years of youth ministry is that I’ll never be as good of a communicator of these messages as my students can be.
That’s right! The 8th grade guy with the slight case of acne and a voice that changes pitch three times in one sentence can be a better communicator than me. And so can the 11th grade girl who uses “like” more than a hummingbird uses its wings.
The reason I believe it’s absolutely true that students can be youth ministry’s best communicators is because with them it’s way more than just words. What I mean is this: Let’s say I preach a sermon on the importance of controlling our anger and using it for good rather than evil. That’s great! I’ve essentially given the material to work with. But what matters is what’s then done with that material.
If Tyler still blows up at his dad later that week and his sister sees it, then the message is clear: There’s no reason to control your anger or use it for good when you can just as well go off on somebody.
But say Tyler takes the frustration he has from talking to his dad and prays about it. Then he comes back and talks to his dad calmly about what was making him so upset. Then his whole family hears and sees this: There are better ways to handle frustration then just blowing up.
The same goes for any message I may ever preach. I can say all the words, but what matters are the actions. And I certainly won’t be in every classroom, in every car ride, at every party, in every house, or in every conversation. But that’s where the messages are best communicated – in everyday life. Then it moves from theory to real action. It goes from being a cute sermon to a real change.
What’s great is that all of this is within the power of the average student that sits in a youth service and hears a message. It’s up to him or to her what they’ll do with what they hear. Sure it’s easy to let it go in one ear and out the other. But there are people who need to hear and see and experience these truths in real-life contexts and the only way that’ll happen is if it’s lived out.
So to every student who happens to walk into a youth ministry on a regular basis, let’s just get one thing clear. Your youth pastor may be funny, may be smart, may be creative, and may seem like the best communicator ever. But when it comes to sharing the gospel and what it means to follow Christ to your friends, there’s no better communicator than YOU!