On August 2nd of every year, I call the man who led me to Christ. For it was on that day 46 years ago, he opened his Bible and shared with me the wonderful, life-giving Gospel of Jesus Christ. On that day, Jesus saved me and set my path in a direction I could not imagine… and wouldn’t change for anything!
As we spoke, I asked Terry Davenport (who, after these many years, is still a pastor – in Iowa), “What was it that made our church youth group different – so effective?” I asked him that because out of those years he ministered to us – just the two I remember, came pastors, missionaries, deacons, faithful servants of God – men and women! Many are still serving Him, others are already in glory. His answer was very succinct and timeless:
1 – It was a ministry based on unconditional love.
2 – We took care not to be ‘legalistic’.
3 – We taught the teens Bible doctrine!
4 – We were all excited about being saved.
5 – The parents supported the youth leaders.
6 – The senior pastor supported and ‘backed us up’.
I have reviewed this list several times. And even now as I think about it, we were not a youth group made up of perfect teens – that was certainly true of this writer. But those six statements were absolutely true then and I believe essential even now. However, I would add one more. Terry and his wife, Donna, diligently prayed for us and with us. They along with the youth prayed for me from the time I began attending church to the day I was saved – and the other young man that was there the day Christ saved me, still does. I am eternally grateful for Terry, Donna and Dan Prall.
This brings me to the conclusion that to have an effective ministry does not require a huge budget or the latest and greatest, cutting-edge program. What it does require is unconditional love, patience while they mature, solid Bible teaching, leaders and teens excited about being saved, supportive parents and pastor…and prayer. This is not a huge investment of cash, but it is a huge investment of life in the lives of young people.
Not really a ‘secret’ is it? But it is effective and timeless. It was true in Jesus’ ministry to the disciples, the Apostle Paul’s with the young men and churches to whom he ministered and from 1970-72 in a small town in Iowa. It’s true now as well and whether you’re working with teens or tots or senior citizens, I urge you to…
Think about it.