During my involvement with ministries, I’ve been able to create a lot of friendships with some awesome youth, many of which have come about from one thing. Singing a corny song? Nope. Reciting chapters of the Bible? Negatory. They’ve come from wrestling t-shirts. From the classic CM Punk fist and lightning bolt shirt, to a Zack Ryder tee, to the Daniel Bryan “Yes!, Yes!, Yes!” shirt, they’ve started soo many conversations with youth who otherwise wouldn’t have said a single word to me. Is it because wrestling is the greatest thing on earth? Probably not. The reason the shirt meant so much, was because it showed them that I was just another person, I wasn’t some boring Christian who hates everything that they like. It bridged the gap between us and allowed me to develop a friendship with them and when the time came, to share my testimony and faith with them, whether they got saved or not, they all listened, because they weren’t listening to some youth worker, they were talking to a friend.
While attending a Christian college, it saddens me to see how many future youth workers just don’t get it. You can sing all of the worship songs you want, you can quote all the Scripture you want, and you can say all of the corny phrases you desire, but they’ll fall on deaf ears if you haven’t built a friendship with the kids. Too many times I see workers blame the kids for not responding, when in reality the workers have made zero effort to get to know the kids and learn about them, where they come from, what they like, and what they believe. And that’s wrong.
A few years ago, at WinterJam, I got to hear Matthew West speak on youth ministry. He said that when he was younger he asked his dad what the key to an effective ministry was. Expecting to hear about certain songs to sing, or a great Bible study curriculum, Matthew West was confused when his dad said “Lots and lots of Pizza”. West’s father would go on to explain that before you can expect someone to share their heart with you, they have to share a pizza with you, before they can cry with you, they have to laugh with you. And that’s true, we have to stop viewing the world as “wretched sinners” and idiots, and realize they’re people, just like you and me.
So as you go and minister, find out what your “Pizza” or “Daniel Bryan” shirt may be! And look at the opportunities to share the Gospel appear more and more. Perhaps you may find out that ministering is a lot more fun and easy, than the thing you’ve been calling “ministry”.