What Do They Really Need?

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I posted the following quote on my blog on October 27 and received some good comments. I would love to get your feedback on what students really need, and how we go about offering it. I sometimes find it a tough balance between what they need and what they want. Sometimes we have to offer them what they want, so that we can offer them what they really need.

All too often I am afraid we error on the side of only offering them what they want.


"The risk facing contemporary teenagers bear solemn testimony to the church's ineffectiveness at addressing adolescence. Youth look to the church to show them something - Someone - capable of turning their lives inside out and the world upside down. Most of the time we have offered them pizza."

-Kenda Creasy Dean, in the Godbearing Life: The Art of Soul Tending for Youth Ministry

4 Responses to “What Do They Really Need?”

  1. Blogger Grant 

    Here is my response - as told to a gym full of middle school, high school students, faculty and staff of a local christian private school...

    It's time for the revolution!

  2. Blogger CL 

    Yeah, this guy is guilty! I really struggle with this. I mean, it is tough. This thought leads me through all sorts of things in my mind regarding my ministry. Many questions like:

    If I do what I believe that I need to do take them where I think God wants me to take them, some won't come at all, then what?

    What if my leaders get mad because our numbers go down, because I am really trying to lead our teens through the discipleship process?

    What if I am not asking the right questions, and ultimately I am leaning too much one me? - This might be the answer...

    Am I making any sense?

  3. Blogger Brian Eberly 

    CL you said, "If I do what I believe that I need to do take them where I think God wants me to take them, some won't come at all, then what?"

    That is the real rub for me. The balance of doing what it takes to draw in students and doing what it takes to see students live fully for Jesus is a hard one.

    I am learning that we don't always have to be and do everything for everyone. It's ok to do one event that draws big numbers and then do another that draws smaller ones.

    I believe it's important that we have a specific purpose for everything we do. Perhaps the purpose is to reach a large number of students so that we can share/show the Gospel with them. Perhaps the purpose of another event/program is a deeper level of growth ie. small group discipleship. That will most likely not draw a large crowd, and that is ok.

    If by being faithful to carry out the mission God has for us in our ministries causes our numbers to decrease, we need to be ok with that.

  4. Blogger Aaron Geist 

    I think another question that comes to mind for me is our model. My friend Jon has been telling me about some books and classes he's been taking that talk about attractional ministry. Ministry where we 'set up shop' and do everything we can to get them to come to us.

    Contrast that with relational (?) ministry, where we go out to the people to proclaim Christ and live out the Kingdom of God in 'their' world.

    Could it be that our model of attraction was useful, but is begining to be less so?

    If so, how does that effect our day to day ministry? (Sunday mornings, mid-week, mission trips, monthly events)

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