From the time I was young, I was a bit of a planner. Most things in my life were carefully considered—and my professional path was no different. I knew what I would study after high school. I had already decided what university I would attend. I had already identified the job I wanted after graduation. And, if I am completely truthful, none of these things dealt with the Concordia University System, the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, or the church at all. So...what happened?
“Can you find babysitters for the women’s event on Saturday?”
“Will you organize the Wednesday night meal in two weeks?”
“Are you open to teaching pre-school Sunday school next fall?”
“Will you head up our trip to Minneapolis for the next National Youth Gathering?”
Life in the church is filled with requests like the ones listed above. Whether you are working in a congregation or volunteering in your local parish, not a week goes by without inquiries from staff, congregational members, and people in the community. Some of those requests sound very appealing and inspire you to a quick response of yes. Some, however, are requests you feel less inclined to accept.
Too often, congregational leaders spend a great deal of time serving on their own. Sure, we attend meetings, counsel others, and lead programs, but in the end, ministry can be a lonely place. We spend hours studying and planning on our own, fighting battles no one sees, and attempting to carry burdens too great to handle on our own. It is possible for church workers and lay leaders alike to feel isolated and alone.
This is an important time of year. It is a time filled with celebration, parties, and transition. It is a time when many people transition from one phase of life to another. It is a season in which many young people are excited, yet anxious; parents are both rejoicing and mourning; and teachers take a collective deep breath.
If you are like most congregations, you have ministries aimed at serving your younger members. In many youth ministries, we tend to spend a great deal of time producing programs for our students. But what would happen if congregations began investing less time building ministries for students and instead developed methods to serve with students? What would it look like to equip students for leadership roles in the church and empower them to serve?