Below is an open letter than I wrote and read to our students during the introduction of our new series, ‘Comeback Kids.’  My hope in posting it here is that it will inspire and challenge you to lead amid difficult times.


We are currently faced with a most challenging time.  Over the past three years, we’ve witnessed our student ministry be reduced to half it’s former size.  We’ve said goodbye to several of our most influential leaders (and some of the most spiritually mature students in the history of our church) due to graduation and college.  Our environments have grown cold and irrelevant.  Our worship seems stale.  Our love seems forced.  Most of us want something better than what is currently ours.

This is not a good place to be.

Or, is it?  Maybe we are here for a purpose;  chosen to follow a design which only we can implement.  Gathered together by our mutual desire to affect today’s student generation with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, maybe we’ve been assembled for a season such as this.  I sense burnout amongst many of us…I sense it strongly within myself.

Most of us are under attack right now.  I can sense the enemy’s breath on my life daily, pushing against the desire of my soul…telling me that I am inadequate, un-inspired, spiteful, and lame.  The voice is strong, hounding me with the statistics and scenarios playing out in our youth ministry right now, whispering the fault lies within the hands of this so-called leader.  Perhaps there’s some truth to the voice – after all, that’s what makes the lies so convincing.  Maybe I haven’t prioritized efficiently, led boldly, taught clearly, loved unconditionally…

Whatever.  It’s time to stop flailing in the pig’s crap of this pin.

I’m crazy enough to hope.  We must look inside ourselves and see what is already there:  the rescue of Jesus, the love of our Father, and the ability to make Him famous in some way.  The seeds of redemption … of change, of life, of eternity … are within us, even if they are as small as a mustard seed.

It’s time to give those thoughts … those seeds … some credibility.

This isn’t just a call out to a youth ministry staff.  This is a broad call for leaders and students whom are ready to dive deep into a life breeming with passion, purpose, and design.  A life which contributes meaningfully, sacrifices excitedly, and worships powerfully.  Now is the time to live within the Kingdom…to pursue that which really matters:  to love God with our whole selves, and to love and lead emphatically.

The temptation is for us to return to a particular style of ministry which may have worked in the past…to offer more games, more after-school programs, more options.  With all of my heart, I do not believe this to be the most effective approach in mentoring spiritually-healthy and evolving young followers of Christ.  It’s my belief that our course is set in simplicity:  to offer environments and opportunities that promote and resemble Jesus Christ.

It’s time to make our comeback.