By Shannon Baker, BCM/D National Correspondent
COLUMBIA, Md.—How we do youth ministry needs to dramatically change the culture that we’re serving, says Maina Mwaura, missionary for student evangelism at the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware.
During an online training session, originally published on Dec. 22, 2008, on bcmd.e-quip.net, Mwaura suggests seven questions that today’s youth leaders need to ask themselves.
One: what gives you the right to be heard?
“Most students who sit in our churches week in and week out are dying to know the answer to this question. And when you and I get up to present God’s Word, especially to this ‘Starbucks Generation’ [students ages 12-18], we’ve got to dramatically articulate the reason we are here is because of God… that God has called us to be here,” he said.
Two: Are you building a generation that has a passion for God?
“Students are passionate. They want to be passionate about something. And I think the thing that they need to be passionate about is God. And I think when you stand up every week…there needs to be a passion for God and his Word.”
To develop that passion, Mwaura suggested that before youth leaders go to their service or class, they have “that time and that talk with God.”
He directly asked, “Are you passionate about the things that God has called you to be passionate about?” He went on to ask if his viewers were passionate about student ministry, God’s Word and about getting God’s Word out to students.
Three: Are you mentoring and discipling future generations?
“That’s a question only you can answer,” he said. “We’ve got to be so passionate, not just about God, which is number one, but we’ve got to be passionate about sitting across the room from students one-on-one or two-on-one and saying, ‘Man! I am passionate about knowing what God has in store for you.’”
Mwaura shared about the impact made on his life by two of his mentors, Bernell Hunter and Rip Radcliff, who were passionate about what God was doing in his life.
“When you sit down with the Starbucks Generation, your questions have got to be to the point and you have to ask those hard questions that nobody else is asking them,” he urged.
Four: Are you investing in our children and youth?
Mwaura shared that investing into student ministry was as important as investing into one’s retirement.
“Every church must ask, are we investing in the lives in our student ministry program? We cannot expect our churches to remain healthy and strong 10 or 20 years down the road if we’re not doing this.”
He continued, “How much time and resources and financial resources are we investing in our youth program? And are we doing that?”
This generation wants to know, are we serious about them? “Because I think how much we are investing will show how serious you are about this generation.”
Five: Are you showing future generations that church is not just about them?
“One of the things I love about this generation is that they really want to get out and serve. We are in an era and time that we are going to look back on 10-20 years down the road and go, ‘Wow! This was an exciting season,” Mwaura noted.
“Students need to know that church is not just about them!” he stressed, challenging leaders to look at their calendars to see how many activities were dedicated to mission projects and how many were for student events.
“When we look at this generation, we’ve got to think to ourselves that we could have a great movement leader in our church,” he said, noting that recent polls indicate that more than half of all students have volunteered in some way this year. “Half of all students really have a strong desire to see change in their community. So, since we know that, are you doing it?”
Mwaura introduced BCM/D’s student conference, Uncharted, which includes a missions service component. Last year, after over 1,200 students spent an afternoon doing service projects throughout Baltimore, most came back saying that they wanted to do it again this year.
Uncharted 2009 will be held March 27-29 at Mt. Pleasant Church in Baltimore, Md. Featured guests include Rush of Fools, Stellar Kart, Devon Turner and Pastor Kevin Marsico. The cost is $50 for the weekend, which includes materials and two meals.
“If you want to see your golden moment in ministry, you’ve got to ask yourself, are we serving? Are we showing students that it’s not just about them?
Six: Are you raising up eagles?
“Are we raising up a generation that’s going to take up their rightful place in this culture and lead?” Mwaura asked, noting that many researchers believe this could be the last Christian generation.
“We’ve got to train students more than ever before that they have got to lead in whatever God has called them to do,” he said, stressing that youth leaders have to ask students the hard questions and train them to be able to take a stand no matter what situation they may find themselves in.”
Seven: Are you showing children and youth that this is the best place to be?
Mwaura thought back to his days at First Church, Orlando, where the student’s ministry was the most exciting place for him to be. He shared how his student leaders consistently challenged each other to make it the best place to be in Orlando.
He encouraged, “You need to ask yourself this question, is this the best place that the Starbucks Generation can be at on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights?”
He urged leaders to honestly answer these questions: “Are we attracting students? Are we being creative enough? Are we doing everything in our power that we can to reach a generation that really needs it?”
For more of this conversation, visit online at http://bcmd.equip.net/presentations/show/1675. In the rest of the presentation, Mwaura shares five principles about the Starbuck Experience that has relevance for student ministry leaders. What is this Starbucks phenomenon? Why is it so popular? What does it take to make it all happen?
For more on-demand virtual training for student ministry or to review current training videos on leadership; marriage and family; ministry foundations; starting churches; strengthening churches; and worship/preaching, or others, visit online at bcmd.e-quip.net.