Now, I hope this is not the case. If it is though I want to help you to heal this riff because it is not healthy for you, your students, or the rest of the church. But I also want to remind those of you who have a healthy relationship between your ministry and the other parts of the church, of just how important that relationship is and why you should keep it healthy. This way, when the temptation comes to want to isolate and just do your own thing, you can fight through it and provide wise leadership for your ministry.
There are several reasons why we cannot allow our ministries to become islands but here are the four biggest to me.
1. Your students are part of the church. - This is the most obvious of all the points, but it is an important one. Your students need to realize that they are a part of the body of Christ, including the local section of the body they are a member of. And they need to understand that as a part of that body they have a role to play. Therefore they need to feel connected and be aware of what is happening so they can know how to serve, pray, and further connect in the church. This way they can be leaders today as well as leaders in the church in the future.
2. Your students need support.- We cannot do this journey of the Christian life alone, and your students can definitely not. They face challenges at school and at home that many of us as adults would struggle to face and overcome. This is why they need love and support from their peers as well as caring adults. Plus they need the example of people who have been in the trenches of the faith for years so they can hear the stories, have someone who they can look up to, and have someone who will be a prayer warrior for them. So you need to make sure that you are giving them opportunities to connect with the adults, especially senior adults, in your church so that they can form those relationships and be strengthened in their faith.
3. You need support.- Like your students you cannot take this journey alone. You need the love and support of others. You need encouragement along the way and to not have to fight a battle at every turn. So you need these relationships as well so that in those hard times you will have others who will rally around you and help you carry the load when you cannot carry the load yourself. Plus, when you have these healthy relationships there will be less battles as you will not be at war with every adult that is worried about those strange noises and smells coming from the youth room. But there is another layer to this. It may seem a little bit selfish but it is the truth. In order for your ministry to flourish. You need financial backing to send kids to camp, put on events, and acquire the youth ministry resources you need. You need volunteers to drive buses, be Sunday school teachers, etc. And the last time I checked, students cannot fill many of these roles. Therefore, again, you need to have relationships with the adults in your church so you can have people to meet the needs of your ministry.
4. Youth ministry has a PR problem. - In many churches, student ministries are not viewed upon in a good way. Some of this is due past bad experiences where either a student or a student pastor did something immature. But much of this is just misperceptions about what ministry to students is all about. This is not the end of the world, but it is an extremely big problem when it leads to perceptions that our students are immature and too young to do anything other than be entertained. I believe this generation wants to and will do great things for God, and our churches need to see that. Therefore we need to make sure that our churches see that so that they know our students want more than just games and fun trips and that they are doing more. They need to see how our students are growing in the word. They need to see how our students are serving in their community. And just maybe, our students cannot only change the poor perception many people have of student ministry, but lead the church to become the church that it should be.
I do not have any specific advice about how to make this happen although I can say that I usually find showing people that our students are not what they though they were works better than telling them. All I want you to understand today is that you must make sure your youth ministry is connected with the rest of the church for your sake, for your students' sake, and for the sake of the church.