In today’s post I want to focus on what it looks like for those who work with middle school students to intentionally live on mission with middle school students and their families. Tomorrow we will focus on some tangible steps to equip middle school students to live on mission. But, I believe it starts with us (whether you are in full-time ministry or are a part of a missional community who has decided to make middle schoolers part of your intentional rhythms.) If you missed the first two posts setting this up go here and here.
#1. Don’t have an agenda
I think for those who previously have done youth ministry there has been a large focus on programs/events/numbers. Some of it has to do with job security. We want to see results because it seems the guy down the road or on the stage at the conference has results. And God works with big numbers right? God works with results? I want to challenge you to not have an agenda. To not assume because you do A then God will do B. While God is a God who does the extraordinary (part the red sea, take Elijah up to heaven, raise Lazarus from the dead, shut the mouths of lions) we also see God moving in His way – in His time. (400 years of silence, Gideon, Jesus and the 12) Part of being missional in our communities is trusting that you are on mission with God and not for God and that God is doing something you get to be a part of rather than expecting you to do everything for Him.
So when you come alongside the community – don’t do it so you can grow your numbers. Discipleship isn’t about an end goal of numbers for a ministry but the journey of leading others to be more and more like Jesus and submit to Him every day. We should be looking for anyway to be the Gospel to our community – the Gospel being good news. Rather than just “how can I have as many conversations about Jesus” we should ask “how can I be good news to my community in the every day?”we should ask how can I be good news to my community in the every day? Click To Tweet
In my context – it started with meeting with local leadership – whether school or community leaders – and asking what they need. Good news was that they had a need and we could meet that need. We were able to bless them and mirror the display of Jesus – the good news that we were dead and had no way to be made alive until He came and made a way! Through these meetings, we started a backpack food program for a local school district, partner with a parent’s group to help them run and be relational and intentional with students at the school events, partner with a principal and guidance counselor to run a group for the 7th grade boys at the school, and help at every football game in the fall.
#2. Don’t Run – Walk
Discipleship and missional rhythms aren’t about a sprint – its a marathon. We are going to talk more about allowing roots to grow deep and what happens with longevity – but just so you know – the rhythms listed above happened over 5 years. And while now things are at more of a sprint – it started at a walk. There were a lot of “no” conversations initially. Because the world we live in isn’t full of good news. Most people have an agenda. Most people aren’t looking to the interests of others. (Philippians 2:4) But there is something beautiful when the little “yes” you are given you remain faithful with. You set that rhythm in your life, you continue to be the good news they need rather than the good news that looks pretty and flashy and you would rather be.
Suddenly, the little you were faithful with becomes more. (Matthew 25) Sometimes it is overnight and other times it is years later. Continually ask God to move and then work as though God is and will move. And God will orchestrate the impossible. I have watched God bring conversations to happen I believed from weeks of “no” after “no” would never happen. And suddenly, doors were flung wide that I hadn’t even thought of. Not because somehow in my power I had done something – there is really nothing spectacular about me. I am nervous and fear others – and yet God has allowed me to be on mission with Him to bring good news to my community.
#3. Know Your Focus
This is really important – and I have blogged about it 3 times now. But know your focus. First we are Christ-followers, second is our spouse, then children – don’t add extra things but rather examine your schedule and ask God where you can change your rhythms to be intentional with middle school students and their families. Do you attend football games with your family each fall? Take a moment each game and walk to find your students and friends. (Listen to their story) Buy them something from the snack bar. (Bless) Are they playing at half time? Watch and then encourage (Celebrate). Its not about changing our lives but rather being intentional in our everyday rhythms. What other tangible ways can be missional with middle school students in the everyday?Its not about changing our lives but rather being intentional in our everyday rhythms. Click To Tweet