Last week I enjoyed a very pleasant afternoon discussion in the summer sunshine by the river in Bath. Our conversation meandered through many gospel vistas and theological considerations. Along the way we were talking about youth ministry, but the point I’d like to share here applies to us all.
Typically when churches are looking for a youth minister they will try to find somebody who is more spiritually mature than the youth in the church, but close enough in age to engage in all the requisite activities. So the person is found and appointed, the programs are designed and the action begins. Often the church wants pizza and programs so that the youth are happy, but whether or not there is any real spiritual growth is another matter.
Part of the problem here is the implementation of Static Position Leadership thinking. I doubt you’ll find that term anywhere as I just made it up, but the principle is not rocket science. The youth minister is represented by the dot, and the youth are the arrow. The assumption is that since he is further along than they are, he can help them grow in the right direction. But does it work like that?
What happens when one of the young folks suddenly comes alive spiritually and is praying fervently and reading the Bible voraciously and chasing God with a passion? Does that teen simply move along the maturity arrow quicker than others, still moving towards the more mature youth leader? Not if the youth leader is spiritually static. It doesn’t take long for someone to overtake the “leader” when the leader is not really leading.
For true spiritual leadership to occur, surely the Dynamic Position Principle must apply. That is, you can only lead others forward as you yourself are also currently moving forward. A church that gets a youth minister who lacks personal genuine growth in their walk with God will be directly harming the youth in the church. It won’t take much for one to surpass the leader in current spiritual momentum. And it won’t take much for the static leader to squash the life out of those who might show him up if they continue.
If this is true for youth ministry, surely it is also true for whole church ministry. Moving the dot to the right for an elder or pastor does not guarantee any sort of health in the church. What is needed is mature and growing godly leaders if they are to infect others with forward momentum in their walk with Christ.