Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Youth Ministry Values (Part 1): The Gospel is Everything

Everyone has values. Whether they're clearly articulated or tacitly underlying every action we take, our lives are defined by them. Ministries have values too. Two years ago, I created a set of ministry values that have stuck with me and my ministry. Some of them have been refined or matured, but all remain the core DNA and ethos of the ministry I want to embody. This blog series will unpack each value in the following way: where the value comes from, why it's important, and how it's practiced in my ministry.

The first value: The Gospel is everything.
Every message, every small group, every event, every staff meeting, every one-on-one conversation, everything must connect with and flow from the Gospel story. This means lots of Jesus-y language.
Where it comes from: My ministry philosophy stems entirely from 1 Thessalonians 2:
Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the Gospel of God, but our lives as well. Surely you remember, brothers and sisters, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the Gospel of God to you.
You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed. For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting, and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.
Motivated and driven by God to share both the whole Gospel and my whole life, characterized by gentleness, care, love, perseverance, holiness, righteousness, blamelessness, encouragement, exhortation, comfort, and enduring suffering and persecution with joy, all for God's glory and kingdom, believing that the power of the Gospel of Jesus is actively transforming lives.

Why it's important: I believe that, at the root of it, every problem is a spiritual problem. Every relational meltdown, every insecurity and worry, every self-destructive behaviour, every act of hatred and envy and greed--it's all idolatry. All of it falls short of the glory of God. The Gospel is good news for anybody, everybody, every situation. Whatever is going on in your life--good or bad, healthy or unhealthy--it can be addressed in Gospel terms and Gospel language.

How it's practiced: I strive preach Jesus in every sermon I share. So we use a lot of Jesus-y language in our ministry. Jesus comes up often (or at least He should), but not in unnatural or forced ways. This doesn't mean we have an altar call every service, or that every conversation is forced to become about the atoning work of Christ. ("Dude, I finally saw Monsters University last night!" "How was it?" "Awesome, and so funny!" "You know what isn't funny: sin and death. Let me tell you about Jesus.") It's asking the question, "what is the Gospel, really?" and the willingness to wrestle with the answer.

Questions to ask: What is the Gospel, really? What is Jesus up to in this... [conversation, small group, situation, program, etc.]? What would be good news for this person(s)? How was the Gospel shared in this ministry moment?

What do you think? How might this value be practiced in your life and ministry?

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