One of the big temptations in youth ministry is to analyze and criticise everything that you do. I have found that I am usually far more critical of the ministry than anyone else, and I think that is probably more appropriate than not. But what I have found that I have to be careful of is for the critical attitude to lead to a sense of control. What I mean by that is that I must be careful not to think that if something goes wrong or isn’t greatly accepted, then it must be because I didn’t do something right. While there may be some room for improvement in ministry, I also have to be sensative to God’s control in the situation.
Recently this has been most played out in our staple event, “Pray ‘n Praise”. This has been happening on the first sunday night of the month for over ten years. it is a time where our youth band plays and you just come for a time of singing and praying with each other. It is a fairly simple thing and doesn’t call for a lot of planning outside of the band.
For over a year now, there has been little to zero interest in this event, which is pretty concerning, because it is the base expression of a Christian. We’ve discussed this at length, wondering if we’re doing it wrong, if we need to advertise it more, if we’re doing it on the wrong night. It comes time for Pray ‘n Praise and each month you hope that what you’ve done has made a difference, and there are still only a few kids there.
It is easy for me to look around and see that it is almost all staff and almost no kids and get very discouraged. I feel like telling the kids, “Hey! WORSHIP GOD!!!” The whole time I’m thinking of things we could do to ignite a passion for worship.
This past month I had a bit of a realization. It isn’t my job to make others worship God. All I can do is preach the Word, provide the opportunity for worship, and step back. I have done what I believe is the wise things in advance and whoever God draws to Himself are those who will worship. Worship cannot be forced on anyone, but God will move in their hearts in His timing.
It is interesting that there is a disconnection when it comes to us (or at least myself) viewing the difference between God’s role in salvation and God’s role in sanctification. Ephesians 2:10, Philippians 2, and other texts make it clear that not only does God give us salvation when we weren’t deserving, but He also leads us through the rest of our lives. He has created the good works, and all we have to do is walk in them.
I wouldn’t be nearly as likely to get up after an evangelistic event and be overly frustrated that no one got saved. That’s obviously God’s job, not mine. All I can do is attempt to clearly convey the Gospel, and God draws who are His own to Himself. But I find myself doing exactly this when it comes to Pray ‘n Praise.
I can almost hear God saying to me what Jesus Christ said to Martha, “Tim, Tim, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Those that are at pray ‘n praise have chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from them.” They are here. I have drawn them. They are worshipping. And God is here, now worship Him, yourself.
So I made a decision to not think about was or was not there and rejoice that God had brought me to that place to worship Him.