Working with Students
I never wanted to be a youth minister.
Well, that’s not exactly true. I did for a while. I had a good youth minister so I thought about doing that for a living, but then I started realizing that working with teens is more than just talking to them about Jesus. Working in youth ministry where I was from was more about toeing the line between church politics and teenage relevance. It was as much about tactfully fielding complaints from parents as it was about discipline young people. If you have talked to me for more than ten minutes you know that I am not one who does politics well or enjoys the over-involved parent. It didn’t take long to realize that youth ministry was not my calling.
That was a real drag to realize because I love working with teens–much more than kids, much more than adults. Every summer since starting college I was working at teen camps. I had a great job at a children’s shelter. I worked with teen guys at an addiction treatment center. In all these roles I was effective, enjoyed my work and felt like I was making a difference. I just could never do that work for a church.
Fast forward a couple years and I am in Detroit, working with Awakenings, a congregation that is still getting is footing established and is on the move for God. I had a couple of roles there: set up guy, guy who gets people to be better at greeting people, etc. You know, nothing to be excited about. Then one week I talked to a teenager there, we’ll call him Steve. Steve was from a rougher part of town and he and his sisters attended sporadically. Through conversation he told me that this was mostly a transportation problem.
I offered to come pick them up from then on and he said that would work. I did this for a week, then a second week and third. After that I decided that I was really interested in trying to grow the student ministry at Awakenings.
Since then it has been a blast working, teaching and growing with these kids. This past week has seen some pretty great growth and I am excited to see what the future holds.