Should I stay? or Should I go?

In the words of those great philosophers the Clash.

Should I stay or should I go now? 
Should I stay or should I go now? 
If I go there will be trouble , An’ if I stay it will be double

So come on and let me know!”

Who knew an 80’s punk band could have such wisdom!?

If I go there will be trouble.

Going involves difficulty. The world of middle school and high school students is messy and meeting them in their world means we will be in the middle of the mess.  It’s trouble, but it’s worth it. I’m reminded of a student a number of years ago I spent a lot of time with.  One night at our ministry  I found out he was riding his bike to our meetings(5  miles one way) which took him across two bridges. I wasn’t comfortable with him riding that far,  so I offered to pick him up each week. I asked for his home phone number, but he couldn’t give it to me because he didn’t know it. His mom would not allow him to have it. So we made an agreement; I would pick him up on my way home from work each week. And that’s what we did –  every week. I would pick him up and take him home with me, we would make and then eat dinner together and then head off to our ministry. It was messy, but it was meaningful. For the first time this high school guy actually  experienced (not just heard about) the love Jesus has to offer.  I’m not sure what sort of mess you’ll find yourself in, but if you GO and you teach your students to GO,  I can guarantee you it will be messy, but meaningful.

If I stay there will be double.

Staying involves double the trouble, because staying  removes our mission which also removes meaning and purpose.  What’s the point of that? Which is exactly what students wonder. Why follow Jesus if he is not calling me to something bigger than myself?

GOing is what brings purpose to knowledge.  Imagine for a moment that you are being taught how to fly a helicopter… humor me here… for most of us there would be no point, because we are never going to actually fly a helicopter. As a result we would not be too engaged during our lesson. However, if we knew that in just a few days we would be expected to fly a helicopter and our families would be the passengers the instructor would have our complete attention. Mission brings meaning to knowledge.  GOing – actually having to let Jesus lead us and having an expectation that He will use us – gives meaning to the knowledge  and faith we have of Jesus and produces disciples that are becoming like Jesus.

“Staying” on the other hand produces double trouble.   How can a group of people who are trying to become like Jesus, stay? It’s an oxymoron. Two things that can’t possibly go together.   When students are involved in a youth ministry that “stays” rather than GOing I generally have seen two results. Either students become apathetic, because “what’s the point?” or  students become pharisaic.  The latter use the knowledge they have gained to elevate themselves and point out how everyone else is wrong and they are in the right.


7 thoughts on “Should I stay? or Should I go?

  1. Hey John,

    Great post man. Love the Clash connection. Reminds me of a book I read about a year ago called How to Keep You Inner Mess from Trashing your Outer World. Life is messy…but Christ gives us the spiritual tools to get though it. Praying for you guys. Take care man.
    Gary D

    • Thanks Gary. Life is indeed messy, and being missional means we choose to engage and embrace the mess rather then try to isolate ourselves from it. Please keep praying!

  2. Pingback: Missional Student Ministry « MISSIONAL MADE SIMPLE

  3. Thanks for the post John. We’re trying to make the “missional” shift in our youth ministry in Akron and your insights were very encouraging. I’d love to come down to Canton sometime to hear more about how you’ve made the transition with the students at Rivertree.
    Jeremy Lile
    St. Luke’s Anglican Church

    • @Jeremy, absolutely, collaboration is a must. Mike Suit should be part of the conversation, he has loads of insight. Transitions are never easy, but they can be good. So keep at it! You might also think about joining us in October for Ignite.

      • John, I will be at Ignite next month with several folks from St. Luke’s, so perhaps we could connect there and possibly set up a time for further conversation…with Mike included. I’m already getting a little push back, but we’re pressing forward!!!

      • I’m glad to hear you’ll be at Ignite. We will definitely connect. Expect push back to increase Jeremy, when it comes to students, folks have strong opinions. Parents are passionate about their kids and so student ministry tends to be a lightning rod. So be encouraged. Push back is just part of the student ministry gig.

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