In just a few weeks I will be beginning what I hope will be the adventure of a lifetime. As a result, I have been praying and thinking and fretting over what it means to be a children's/youth pastor. What programs do I need to establish? What will my discipleship material look like? How do I build a seamless bridge from elementary to middle school to high school? What can I do to keep my students from walking away when they enter college?
Seriously, I'm going to have to shave my head just to hide all the gray hair that I now have.
I went to coffee with my new pastor a few days and talked all of this over with him. He listened and gave me some great advice: "The only thing you need to do right now is build relationships. You need the people. Without the people, there is no church."
Here's the thing we need to remember: Programs are great. Games are enjoyable. Discipleship is important. However, at the end of the day, your students want you. They want to see you. They want you to be there for them at their games and programs. Your students want to know you care about them and are praying for them. We all want to have the youth group described in Purpose-Driven® Youth Ministry, but the reality our students probably don't care.
They just want us to be there for them.
(HT to April Perry for the inspiration)