Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The Next Level?

My daughter leaves with her youth group next Sunday morning. They're headed to New Orleans to take part in a youth construction / disaster relief project. Obviously, they will be working in the wake of last year's devastating Hurricane Katrina.

This is our youth ministry's third mission trip. It is our youth ministy's third construction-oriented mission trip. And though I am proud of them, and I know that God will use them to do an incredible work, I know deep in my heart that it is time for something more. It is time to stretch this youth ministry and take them to the next level.

Do you know what I mean? Think about it. Many tens of thousands of students that we send to the "mission field" each year are actually going to construction sites. Without doubt, they do good works. They touch lives. They make a difference. And yet, evangelism opportunities are always rare ... sort of hit and miss. I know, I've probably been on ten such projects myself over the years.

For years we have touted such construction-oriented projects as "entry level" expsures to missions. Yet, in fifteen plus years, we have done little to move these students beyond "entry level." We seem satisfied with giving them just a taste of missions, and we so rarely challenge them to throw back their heads and take a big drink.

It's time for us to train our teenagers to do more that paint and roof houses. Let's face it ... few of them will need those skills in adulthood. We need to train them how to share their faith. We need to train them in the need for and methods for planting new churches. It's time for the Youth Pastors in Baptist life to step up and take it to the next level. Even if your church doesn't get it. Even if your sponsors and adult chaperons want to keep doing construction (because it is their youth ministry "comfort zone" - their security blanket).

We're not going to do it again next year. We've meade our last mission incursion to a construction zone. My youth group and my daughters will be doing missions in the heart zone next year. They are going to a Mission M Possible evangelism / church planting mission week. Hopefully, they will meet some of your students there. It will be a shame if our thousands of missional students in our churches remain hidden behind their hammers and paint brushes. I pray that God will move on the hearts of their leaders and move them to the front lines of this spiritual war that we're all in.




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