Reggie Joiner, the founder of “ReThink” ministries made this observation about the struggle churches continue to experience in keeping their youth involved in church after graduation from high school. In the book Unchristian he wrote:
“We have discovered a short window of time during the teenage years when students need to experience something beyond church as a spectator sport. If a young person is not challenged by hands-on personal ministry, their faith will likely be sidetracked and even sabotaged.”
Louie Giglio, founder of Passion, echoed this truth when he wrote of a shift he has observed in the lives of college students across the land.
“It is clear to me that something significant has absolutely shifted this generation. I think it is God’s great kindness stirring our hearts to show His great kindness to the world. With this behind us, the students at Passion aren’t the ones who look good, and this generation doesn’t look like a hands-on, get-involved, do-something generation, God looks good. And God looks like a hands-on, get-involved, do-something God.”
These insights remind me of the words of Jesus when He said:
“Let your light so shine before men that they will see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” Matthew 5:16 KJV
I too fear we have turned the people of God into spectators rather than servants. Too often they function as critics rather than contributors.
So how do we get the people out of the stands and into the game? I believe we need to think outside the box. Too often ministry within the life of the church consists of squeezing into the squares and circles of committee life and Sunday School. Could it be God has created many of us to function more like triangles, rectangles, and octagons.
I am not suggesting we do away with the circles and squares of traditional ministry. I am simply suggesting we unleash the people of God to be His hands and feet in a wide variety of ways. As a leader I need to learn to listen to the passion of those I lead and help them follow their hearts and spiritual gifts to effectiveness in ministry.
In some ways I lose control, but in the big scheme of things I never really had control anyway. The church will be much more effective when the Holy Spirit calls the plays, and His people get in the game.