I recently had the chance to travel to Texas and speak at a Disciple Now weekend. I was scheduled to speak relatively early on the first night, so I planned on going to “Food & Fire” (great name) afterwards. This started at like 9:30pm. It was a time for all the students to meet at a house and eat and hang out together before heading back to their host homes.
While I was there, one of the students recognized me, did a double take, and said, “You came?!”
In my mind I was thinking, “Of course I came. Am I JUST the speaker?”
But the reality is without relationships, that’s all we are. It would have been really easy (and justifiable) for me to go back to my hotel room and start prepping for the next morning. After all, I had been on the road all day, I just spent 45 minutes blitzing through introducing myself and preaching, and I was expected to speak again in less than 11 hours; going back to my room would’ve been an easy call. But I would have missed this moment and these connections with students.
My fear in youth ministry is that we acknowledge the importance of relationships but we’re content to take care of other things first. My fear is that we’re ok with being just the speaker.
So let’s evaluate a few things:
- Do you ignore the call of a student so you can finish your Instagram announcement design?
- We may train our volunteer leaders to go do contact work, but when was the last time you set your own feet on a school campus?
- Are you available/approachable before you speak?
Speaking takes work, for sure. But playing 9 Square doesn’t. Eating S’mores doesn’t. And
doing things like this will multiply your speaking efforts because students will see you’re not just the speaker anymore. You traveled a long way to show them you care about them. Sounds a lot like Jesus to me.