It is pivotal, necessary, and certainly foundational … have I got your attention yet? The essential question for youth ministry is, “What is Christian leadership?” I look at the question on the page: it is short, it looks simple enough, but its significance leads to a lifetime of discussion.
Any youth ministry that is doing serious work begins with the end in mind. “What is Christian leadership?” must be at the forefront. What are the desired outcomes? Kids came. So what? Where are they now? Who are they now? Who will they be? I have said it over and over again, “Kids are either leading, or they are leaving.” If the church does not offer substance, meaning, and, for me the big word is purpose, they have checked out.
We want kids to be Christian leaders. My fear? The leadership images we esteem, those we keep holding up and praising, revolve around microphones and committees. Real Christian leaders must be those who talk or sing into microphones or those who are elected or appointed to committees. Okay, those are important roles! I am not suggesting they go away, but the microphone and committee people exist to organize, edify, inspire, and gather the rest of us. Then, we need to equip, engage, and empower Christian leaders to daily live on the front lines of ministry.
After some months of asking questions, discussing, and reading, the Peer Ministry Leadership advisory team and I came slamming right back into the Good Samaritan story.
Christian leadership is best described in context of the Good Samaritan story (Lk. 10: 25-37) as caring and welcoming every day, everywhere and in every relationship.
We believe that all are called to a vocation of loving one’s neighbor, as a response to a loving God, through a relationship with Jesus Christ.
The outcomes flowing from the Good Samaritan story are that a Christian leader…
Is Observant: Alert to the needs of others
Takes Action: Uses skills with confidence, led by a compassionate heart
Is the Improbable One: Knows woundedness from having been wounded
Comes Close: Listens patiently and explores what is the real need
Sacrifices: Willing to risk group security to give help
Crosses Boundaries: Gives help to others, no matter their identity or label
Seeks Help: Guides others to people who can help
These are the outcomes I want for kids. Instead of trying to teach or preach about it, Peer Ministry Leadership equips, empowers, and engages kids to live it!