Although I head up the work it can never be about one person. If I leave or die anything built needs to continue and thrive so the ministry needs to be about team. The head of the work will always be Jesus, in which case it is about one man! After that it is about us as a team, we will look to each other for encouragement, guidance and prayer.
Secondly, I thought it would be important to reiterate what ministry is about or maybe as I see it. I believe there are two foundational verses:
30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’Mark 12 v 30-31 (NIV)
31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,Matthew 28 v 19-20 (NIV)
20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Our work is on two levels at the moment, open or detached youth work and an outreach, Christian group. We are creating and building relationships and providing the young people entertainment and a safe place to go. The idea is to use our outreach work as a jumping board into something more, something more Christian or maybe a half-way house between an open youth club and a discipleship or worship meeting.
When we enter ‘their’ space we need to show that we do care, love and respect them. We listen and enjoy the time spent with them, it needs to be a genuine commitment. I am guilty of ‘banter’ but our conversations should develop from banter to constructive. This won’t happen overnight.
But, what can we offer the young people if the conversation does move on, what is available and where can we take them?
Our conversations; “Who would like to engage with this idea?” “Who else gets bullied at school?” “What do you feel about the way you are or look?” have an interesting look about them and sometimes do not move on much. However, as we deal with these issues we need to be mindful of the young people, and also of our overall aim as missionaries. Developing this work is a careful balance as we need to deal with needs as Jesus did. Often his approach was to meet the person where they were at, healing them, casting out demons, or challenging their behaviour or attitudes and then follow that up with a spiritual challenge. This is not easy to do with our hands tied in certain places.
So, where am I going with this? Jesus’ first command was to make disciples. But what does it mean to be making disciples? Jesus words are an interesting echo forward. He hasn’t called us to entertain or make mates, to give to the poor or to read your Bible daily and pray (these are important). His final word to us before he left to go and be with his Father was to say, “Make disciples”.
Discipleship is at its core teaching. We all are being taught in some way or other. Our discipling needs to be encouraging young people to discover Bible truths for themselves. “Why do you pray?” Our discipleship needs to run on love. “Love the Lord your God… and your neighbour as yourselves.” Love will give the young people time and will persevere, it will accept criticism and will be sacrificial and sometimes, it might need to pass the discipleship on to someone else or to end it.