Pizza, Wrestling, and Ministry

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”.

 

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Walking the Walk and Talking the Talk

It was Friday morning around 9:30am at Three Crosses (the outreach I work at). A kid by the name of Champ was standing in front of me and I was disciplining him for throwing water on another kid. As he explained his side of the story I kept hearing the same things reiterated “Well he…” and “And She….” and “I was just retaliating”. By this time some kids had gathered around (if you don’t know by now, kids are naturally nosey) and I said to them “I don’t get why you feel like y’all have to retaliate and I don’t get why you have to provoke someone in the first place. You don’t see Sarah (my friend who helps out there as well) and I calling each other names. You don’t see me getting mad when Ashby (another friend who works there) hits me with a ball”. It was interesting the reaction I received afterwards, it was just silence. Now I can’t say that since then everyone has been little angels, I can’t say that five people got saved due to those couple of sentences, but what I can say is that the staff is doing there part. See my words would have fallen on deaf ears had my actions not reflected my words and most certainly one of the kids would have happily stepped right up to call me out on my hypocrisy, but thankfully they weren’t able to.

Words mean nothing if your actions aren’t in check with them. You can quote any Scripture from the Bible that you want to, you can start any Bible study you want to, you can smile as big as you want, but if your life outside of an outreach, church, etc… is different, then somewhere along the line, you’ve missed the point. To be completely honest, one of the things that gets me the most is when people sing about God, read about God, or talk about God, then ten minutes later they’re talking about the person that they hate, the party they’re going to next weekend, or they go on a cynical rant. It contradicts the very thing they were promoting just a little bit ago and it’s not good.

Keep in mind people are ALWAYS watching (not promoting paranoia, you know what I mean). So make sure you’re following the same Christianity that you’re marketing to an unsaved world.