Why youth leaders are often to afraid to scatter the seed

This may be true for many Christians, not just youth leaders, but it does strike me that there is often a singular issue that restricts the sowing of the good seed that God has given us. And what is that restriction? The fact that we define what the result has to be!

So many times I have heard youth leaders say that they are reluctant to do anything missional, because they don’t know what the thing will look like in the end! they need to have the totality of the picture in place, so they either engage themselves or encourage their young people to engage. But what would it look like if we didn’t have the complete picture in mind? If we were not so dictative about how things must look once a seed is sown? As Jesus invited the disciples to follow him, as he engaged with others during his journeys, there was no complete picture given, no definable absolute to how things had to be that was shared. There was a journey that was invited into, and life discipleship worked out as the journey was embarked upon. Why is it that we restrict ourselves to defined pictures of how things have to be, rather than enjoying the journey that God invites us on, and seeing where he leads? The farmer scattered the seed, some fell on 4 different types of ground. but it did not restrict him from scattering the seed. He never said to himself, “I have no idea whether this flower will grow into the exact flower, shape, size, colour that i want, so i won’t scatter the seed.” If anything he probably knew the reality that some of the seed would not grow into anything at all, but he still knew that there wold be great stuff out of his sowing, and so he sowed. Could we adopt a similar approach?

Rather than defining what the outcome has to be, could we scatter some seed, and believe, that good things would come from that? Is our reluctance to scatter more about our own lack of belief and trust? Do we hold on to the seed that we have been given because we do not believe that it could grow into anything that God would want? Where do we place our trust?

Isaiah, 55.11 says that the word that goes out will not come back empty. But do we believe that? Do we believe that the word that we speak out from God will not come back empty?

so rather than placing our defined pictures, or personal restrictions upon being missional, sowing the seed, sharing what god has given us, do this in a spirit of trust, belief, and enthusiasm.

The importance of strategic thinking for youth leaders

There has been a lot of thinking re strategy in terms of working wth, engaging with young people recently, particularly due to the nature of the work. Not knowing how many young people you are going to have on a weekly basis, or who is going to stick around post schools nd so on. So the question was posed about strategic thinking, due to its difficulties.

There are some good reasons for strategic thinking, and here are just a few:

1: gathering team: yes this is a lot to do with vision, but it also includes strategy, as a team is vital to see the vision come into fruition. Different people will play different parts along the journey of the strategy, and offer different gifting, some of which, maybe all of which will be useful to help see the vision come into fruition. Team also helps bring the creativity that is definitely required, but the reality is that most people are unlikely to join a team if they don’t see a vision, or a framework of strategy of how the vision will come into fruition. There needs to be a plan of some description for people to see how they can play their part in enabling the strategy to be worked out.

2: direction: linked to the gathering of team, people need to have an idea of direction. strategic thinking can and should bring some direction to where people are heading. In regard to youth discipleship, there are steps to seeing the depth of growth in the discipleship of young people, plus also a growth in the number of young people who are going to be involved. Strategic thinking leads to growth.

3: growth: Often regarded as a bad word in relation to discipleship for some reason. Peoples person growth is important yes, but so is the growth of sphere of influence, impact, and people engaging with what is going on. Strategic thinking should lead to growth, otherwise things remain as they are, and that small grouping remains that small grouping, which is not lined up to a God who is moving in peoples lives, and a kingdom that is at hand for all.

4: people joining in: This is partly linked the gathering team, but it also enables others to get involved, and play their part in what is going on. young people are more likely to join in, invite others to join in, if they know where things are heading, and know that it isn’t just going to stay static. to invite others to be part of something there needs to be an understanding of what it is people are being invited too, and where the journey is heading.

These are just some initial thoughts re strategy and work with young people. there will undoubtedly be more.

Engaging in the Culture

When we think of engaging with people or an area, we can often go with the mindset that we know best or have something that others need to hear and listen to. This means we often go in a spirit of power. But at Christmas, it is worth remembering how the son of God chose to engage with us, our world and our culture, becoming a dependant with nothing at all, growing up, learning and engaging in the culture that he sought to bring to love, peace, encounter and relationship.

Even though we may well have something of God that we carry with us at all times whenever we engage with others, how we choose to show this is key. At this Christmas time, is there something we can learn from the way that God chose to engage with us, live life with us, and in gentleness and compassion, transform lives and society?

What are you prepared to leave?

At Christmas, we often think about the giving and the receiving of things; rarely, if ever, do we reflect on leaving, letting go, or even abandoning.

So much of the Christmas story has leaving at the heart of it. Jesus leaving Heaven, his father, and coming to us; the three kings, or wise men, leaving their environment, all that they knew and going somewhere that they probably knew little if anything about; and the shepherds leaving their livelihoods to go to meet with Jesus.

How much would we be prepared to leave, to let go of, at this Christmas time? Is there stuff that we still want to hold on to? Is there stuff that we are not prepared to let go of? Is there comfort, the familiar that we feel we need to keep a hold of, rather than going to Jesus and all that he might say to us?

If Jesus himself was prepared to leave and go, what could it mean for us today, and what could God be saying to us through this living example of leaving and going?

Are we prepared to leave all that we know, that is comfortable, that makes life easy, to go to Jesus and meet with him, regardless of whatever the consequences might be?