[This is the second post in our series on Building a Youth Ministry from Scratch]
Starting any kind of ministry is above all a spiritual activity, which means the spiritual aspects are way more important than the practical ones. Yet many of us youth leaders are ‘doers’, so we want to dig in right away and get something done. But if we skip the spiritual part and focus immediately on the practical part, we’re setting ourselves up for failure.
Doing youth ministry means working at the front lines. Our goal is to show students the Gospel and how a life with Jesus is the only life worth living. That’s not a message the enemy wants us to spread so he will do whatever he can to stop us.
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12 NKJV)
You can expect battle when you work at the front lines, in whatever form. So prepare for battle spiritually. Here are some suggestions.
Spiritual warfare is a reality. At the same time it’s not something many of us like to talk about and it’s not something we want to focus on. The first is because it makes us a bit uneasy and even scared—and it shouldn’t.
Preparing for battle means learning to stand in the security that the battle has already been won. Yes, satan can wound us, but he can never conquer us. We are Jesus’ and He has already defeated satan when He conquered sin and death. That’s an assurance we need to fully learn to embrace and live out every day.
On the other hand, it’s healthy not to focus too much on spiritual battle. If we do that, we may be tempted to interpret everything spiritually and lose a healthy perspective (we have a Dutch expression for this: seeing a demon behind every tree). Not every bad thing that happens in your ministry is a spiritual battle.
Secondly, we need to focus on Jesus and not on the enemy. When we are so overly focused on the spiritual battle, we devote way more attention to the enemy than to our Savior—clearly, not the right priority.
So yes, expect battle, but put it in the right perspective.
Assess Your Spiritual Health
Where are you spiritually right now? Are you in a good place? Or is your starting point unrest and spiritual fatigue?
If it’s the latter, do not despair. God doesn’t call the qualified. He calls whom He declares qualified in Him. Moses wasn’t exactly jumping at the opportunity God had picked for him, now was he? It’s okay to feel unworthy, insecure, and even unqualified.
It’s also okay to not be in the best spiritual position. No, really, it is. As long as you are able to see it and admit it and are willing to trust God to provide for you.
Personally, I’d be way more concerned if you were overly confident that you could do this and that God has picked the right person from the job. In that case, pride is just a small, slippery slide away.
Build Spiritual Habits
A deep connection with God is of crucial importance when you enter the battlefield. That doesn’t mean you have to have all the answers, or always feel God close. It means you are willing to submit to Him and seek His will. Spiritual habits are of importance here.
If you don’t have the habit of spending time in prayer, reading God’s Word, fasting, meditating on the Word, retreating in solitude, etc. yet, now is the time to develop them. The key word here is habit. That means you have to embed them into your daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly routines so that they become an automatic habit.
Abide in Him—and He will take care of the rest.
If you have already started a new youth ministry, how do you look back on your spiritual preparation? Where could you improve?