There was one other important thing I meant to write but forgot.
So here it is…
On a purely sociological level youth ministry is a hell of a lot easier than adult ministry. Take a bunch of young people at an impressionable stage of life, invite them into an environment of energy and vibrance, have them connect with older influential, charismatic leaders who take an interest in their lives and it isn’t that hard to see them ‘sign up’.
When you are a pastor among young people you work among a more vulnerable group and you also have some degree of power / influence over them that you don’t have to the same degree with adults. I have always said that on a purely pragmatic level that if you have a bunch of young people in a room with the right vibe, music and ambience then a complete pagan could preach an evangelistic message and get the hands in the air. Its much tougher with life hardened skeptical middle aged adults!
I remember preaching several times at LBC about how we ought to see more people coming to faith in the adult section of the church – and it was true – we were pretty lame on that front – but I had no idea how much harder it was to do mission among adults. I wish I had been kinder to the people I was preaching at because while we did need some rocking, I didn’t have any idea of life in their worlds.
Now I do. It is a completely different ball game and one that has caused me to question plenty of times whether I am really up for it.
Adults are not attracted to our funky environments and they are not so easily influenced by charismatic leaders and preachers. They don’t have the same desire to impress people in authority, and they are much more able to just walk away.
So – to all youth pastors – next time you are tempted to see your adults as abject failures on the mission front, stop a moment and remember where you are working. Remember the kind of people you work amongst.
See how you go connecting with and sharing the gospel with anyone over 30 and then when you have been a little humbled go back and say whatever you like.
I gaurantee you will speak with much more grace!