“Bro. We’re on the Same Team!”
Being a child of the 90s, I grew up the in the multiplayer video game age. From where it all started with kids in the neighborhood playing Goldeneye to losing scholarship all-nighters with friends in college on Halo 2, team video games have been a big part of my social experiences growing up.
In instances of men and competition, there always seems to be one constant. Anger. Rage. Man Tantrums or Mantrums. Whatever you want to call it, it is always bound to happen. And you’d think a spiritual man like myself would be above that sort of thing, especially in an area as insignificant as video games. Well, you’d be wrong. I’m guilty. I’m weak. It’s sad.
Now, one of the things that would send my rage-ometer through the roof was when somebody on my own team would kill me by mistake in a close game. Oh man, I’d lose it right there. Again, this is an embarrassing thing to admit but alas it’s all true.
Amidst the fury-ridden screams, one simple phrase could aways be understood.
“Bro. We’re on the Same Team!”
What’s this have to do anything with anything important?
I’m glad you asked.
In my own personal experiences, I with someone would have grabbed my attention and screamed “Bro. We’re on the Same Team” in my face early in my youth ministry career. For many years as a youth pastor, I was stuck in what is commonly called the comparison trap. When I would attend youth conferences, talk with local youth pastors or look at other student ministry’s Instagram feeds, I would become so jealous as to why God has blessed them so much and not me. Why do they have such large numbers? Why do they get such a large budget? Why do they get the best leaders? Question after question would roll through my head continuing to distract me from the specific calling God had put on my life.
I want to say one thing to speak to the comparison trap and then move on to the main purpose of this post.
“Just be found responsible with what God has given YOU, and he will bless you more than you can imagine.”
Now to this idea that we are on the same team.
Let’s open our eyes to one of the biggest enemies facing the church today: DISUNITY.
Working against each other and not with each other is one of the ridiculous things we can do as church leaders.
Paul knew that too be true and it’s why he wrote this to the church in Corinth:
1 Corinthians 1:10
I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose.
It is of utmost importance that we as the church work together for the cause of Jesus Christ. It’s time we lay down our insecurities, preferences and pride. Our main focus should always be reaching students with the love of Jesus. Nothing more. Nothing less.
So I want to offer you three ideas that can speak to this situation we may find ourselves in.
1. There are plenty of unsaved students to go around.
That may sound a little insensitive to you but it doesn’t make it less true. Right now, there is a bigger number of people in the world going to hell than heaven. It’s a real truth. We have one of the biggest opportunities to impact that number with our student ministry. And guess what, we can do WAY more working together.
Check this out. I recently did a little study and found out that within a fifteen minute drive of my church there are 16,053 students. That’s middle school and high school. 16,053! That’s also a way conservative number too. This number has opened my eyes to just how huge the potential is in my area to reach students with love of Jesus. The more I negatively compare myself to what others are doing, the more I miss what God is trying to do through me. And who really loses? Lost students.
There is no way I can make a big dent in that number without other healthy youth ministries in my area.
2. Yo. Not every student is going to like your youth group.
Our youth group has a monthly reach of between 250-300 students. Which is so awesome for us and an unbelievable blessing from God. However, not every student in my area is going to like my youth group. I can try and try but some students just may feel comfortable in a small youth group setting and choose that. I can try and try but some students just won’t connect to who I am as a communicator. Hey, that’s ok! Now it took me awhile to get to that mindset but it’s something I have to be comfortable with.
I encounter students in my community all the time, ones who I haven’t seen at church in awhile, and ask them “Hey! How’s it going?”. A lot of times their shy, reluctant response is “Oh hi. Yeah I’ve been going to another church now.” Now in the early days my response would be “What?! You gotta come back with us!” which was so stupid. I’ve learned to fix that mistake by saying “That’s awesome! As long a you’re going to church somewhere.” How dare I make a student feel uncomfortable to tell me they’re going to church. That’s crazy! Listen, I am for every church that preaches Jesus.
All you can do is be who God has called you to be! You can’t be all things to all people. What you can do is help other youth leaders in your area to be who God has called them to be. And that moves us into the last idea.
3. Get together regularly with other youth pastors.
This is something I absolutely love doing! But when I first started in youth ministry I had no desire to do it at all. It wasn’t important to me because I was working against my partners in youth ministry and didn’t see the need to work with them.
Here’s the thing: Sometimes, we can love a fellow youth pastor we meet a conference far away from home, but hate the one that is right down the street from us.
The youth pastors in our area meet together the first Monday of the month at what we call the Round Table. It really is one of my favorite things to do because it a place to have community with people who are doing the same thing I am. It’s not a place for boasting about the numbers you had last week or a place to pitch an event you’re doing. It’s a safe place to talk life together and pray for each other. We add value to each other. We learn from each other. We fight for each other. Find a way you can make this happen with the youth pastors in your area.
Remember: “Bro. We’re on the same team.”
Keep asking questions. Keep making mistakes. Keep following Jesus.