Are You A Player?

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A few weeks ago our classis held a three day retreat for our youth and leaders. Over 250 youth, young adults, and leaders gathered to hear Dave Lane of Sarnia challenge us to get into the game. So many of us, leaders included, are content to just sit on the sidelines and be a fan. A fan knows who God is, believes in Him, and knows all about Him. Just like in sports, we know our team, we know all facts and stats about our favorite player, but God calls us to be much more than just a fan.

As youth leaders, what does this mean for us? Surely as youth leaders, volunteer or paid, we are in the game, right? By getting involved with our youth we have shown that we want to do more than just sit on the sidelines and be a fan. But are all of us really in the game, or just going thru the motions? What do I mean by that? Let me give you a few examples:

- Have you ever gone on SERVE with your youth? I know many of you have, and if you have gone on SERVE you know how special it is to spend an entire week with your youth. I know for some of you that means giving up a week of your vacation time, but if you are “in the game” , you know how important it is to be a part of SERVE with your youth. Maybe your church has never gone on SERVE.. If, as a leader, you get excited about going, your youth will also get excited.

- There are leaders that take their youth to retreats and conventions, but spend most of their time hanging out with other leaders, after all, “this is my weekend off”. At retreats, leaders need to sit with their youth getting to know them better. It is all about building relationships.

- If one of your youth goes forward for an alter call at a retreat, are you right there to pray with them, or is that outside your comfort zone?

- Last year at the All Ontario Youth convention, we had Shane Clairborne invite the youth and leaders forward to take a $5 bill from the alter. The $5 bill was stamped with “LOVE”, and the idea was to use it to make a difference in someone’s life. Most of the youth came forward to take a $5 bill, but most of the leaders hung back, not wanting to be part of it. I heard things like, “oh, that’s for the youth, I do not need to do that”.

I once read that “our youth will not raise their hands in praise to God, any higher than their leaders do”. We all know that the best way to lead in anything, is by being an example. This is how we need to lead our youth. We need to “be a player”, to get in the game, not just cheer from the sidelines. We can always come up with an excuse why we can’t go: I don’t feel like it, I am too busy, I do not know how to pray with someone else, but God calls us to be a Player in His kingdom, not just a fan cheering others on.

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Great article, Ray! I would also question what we're doing outside of our "everyday youth jobs"? This is a challenge I've been forcing myself to do recently because it's so easy to get sucked into doing "youth work". Doing something volunteer without payment (the "service" work we always preach about) is different than leading a Bible study or an event or a praise team or a service project we're being paid to be present for. True volunteer time without your youth by your side I think is also a valuable tool for teaching, leading, and instructing students. The best teachers I learned from were mentors who told life stories, not metaphorical scenarios. 

Love the article!

A pet peeve of mine is when worshiip leaders include songs with reference to raising hands, and then they don't!  Better then to not use a song with those lyrics, lest this detail show us to be less than sincere.