Fruit and Fruitfulness

Galatians 6:9 - Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Keeping volunteers in youth ministry has difficult moments. It is especially hard in seasons where it feels more like hard work than harvest. And in reality, sometimes that harvest is years after the seeds are planted. And then the harvest may be reaped by another ministry or church.

Understanding fruit, fruitfulness and fruit that lasts is important. If we don't, we might become weary and stop doing the good we should be doing.

What fruit should we aim for and expect in youth ministry?

I believe we should set our sights with faith. Believe for young people who have never heard the gospel, to hear it, understand it, embrace it and begin to live it out. Believe for young people who have grown up in church to find their own faith and begin to live it out independently of their parents. Believe for broken lives to find hope and start the journey towards healing and wholeness. Believe for families and communities to be impacted. Believe for the young people we lead to go on past our ministry to be adults who follow Christ and their faith.

Fruitfulness is the intentional building of that ministry, even when you don't see the immediate results. A gardener does not plant the seeds and expect a plant with fruit on it tomorrow. It takes time.

How do we grow fruit that lasts?

To make fruit that lasts, I believe we need to: 

  • build resilient faith in youth. There will be hard times and they need to be prepared for it and not think that life will be easy just because they are a Christian.
  • point young people to Jesus. He should always be their primary connection point, not us as leaders. It might feel good to our ego to feel needed, but we are not setting up the young people to last if they rely on us more than Jesus.
  • introduce young people to the other generations. Youth ministry is a season in the life of young people. Eventually they will join "big" church, and the more connections they have, the higher the chance they will last.
  • help them find their place in life and in service in the church. Get young people serving and involved. When they know who they are and that they fit in God's plan they are more likely to stay.
  • engage parents and family. The influence of parents is greater than the youth leader's. They were there before you and they will be there after you. You have a role to play in young people's lives but it is powerful when youth leaders and parents partner to disciple young people.

 

So if the season feels like one where there is lots of work, lots of effort and not a lot of fruit, do not grow weary. Encourage each other that you are playing your part in this season.

I have the privilege of seeing young people who came up through my youth ministry 10+ years ago now ministering and leading in their own right. I even have the privilege of putting their name forward for various speaking opportunities knowing they will do better than me. I was not the only influence in the journey but I know I was part of it.

Do not grow weary, for there is a harvest if we do not give up.