I love working in Youth Ministry. Some of my favorite moments have come at Youth Councils either at the altar, during hang out time or night time devotions. If you are from KT, you have just gone through this and for everyone else…it is coming very quickly. This is a time where we have tremendous opportunity to speak into the lives of our young people but at the same time a dangerous moment where we could potentially be setting them up to fail. Think back with me to a Youth Councils, TYI or other ‘mountaintop’ spiritual experience you experienced as a young person. (Non-Army readers: Youth Councils = youth revival event) The very reason they are referred to as mountaintop experiences is that they can be spiritual ‘highs’ with the possibility of unsustainability after the event ends. I never liked this analogy as a teenager (however true it might be) because it made day-to-day ‘valley’ life sound very unfufilling.
The tendency is to return to our ‘normal lives’, regroup with friends and overall our daily lives change very little. There are exceptions to this as we have seen wonderful life change come from these opportunities but I challenge us now to look at our roles as the leaders in the day to day. What are you doing to make sure that when you bring your young people to Youth Councils you’re not just bringing them up to a cliff to fall off of when they return home? What support are you putting in place to continue the commitments made and lives changed from those special moments? In some circumstances that may mean having lessons or activities in place that draw back on what was learned then so that it stays fresh. In other instances it may mean having an accountability partner or mentor system set up within your Corps. The point is to keep these mountaintops from being isolated incidents.
Unfortunately; due to home life, school life, peer pressure or other significant challenges our young people face today they very well may be facing a falling off of that mountaintop. In which case it will be best to communicate that you care and share office hours if your young people need to talk. You may have dealt with peer pressure as a kid but its different today than it was just 5 years ago. I understand preparation for Youth Councils takes a significant amount of time for many of us but what may be more important is how we respond to young lives dedicating to change. If we approach it with a cynical heart our young people will read you like a book and determine that maybe it’s not worth it. Youth Councils, TYI, retreats, etc- they are not meant to take the place of serious Youth Ministry but be a supplement to it. Help your young people recognize that heart shaping can be permanent with a little work. Be willing to put that work in and then be ready to hear some crazy/creative/outside-the-box evangelism ideas from those that are willing to dream that winning others for Christ is worth it at any cost.