How Should You Handle Inconsistency in Youth Ministry?

If you’ve been in student ministry long at all, you’ve probably been confronted with the reality of inconsistency in the lives of your students. Some days, it feels like they’re making choices based on what would make them seem most spiritually bi-polar! One week, a kid spends hours sharing solid, biblical answers to a friend’s tough questions, then the next week she bursts loudly into a quiet moment of prayer, oblivious to the disruption she’s just caused. Week after week, another guy faithfully leads his peers to know Jesus, then 3 weeks after graduation, he moves in with his girlfriend and checks out of ministry altogether. I’m sure you can come up with your own list of examples of just how inconsistent our young people can be.

So, how do we handle this inconsistency?

  1. With Grace. If we’re honest, isn’t their inconsistency mostly a reflection of what they see all around them? Don’t we recognize a little bit of ourselves in their unsettling ability to go off the rails once in a while? The same grace that sustains us and is at work in our lives to sanctify us, should flow through us to those in need of it.
  2. With Courage. We can’t be afraid to urge our students on to live lives worthy of the calling they’ve received. A life that consistently holds out the hope of Jesus’ kingdom is not beyond their reach, but they’ll think it is if we keep lowering the bar of our expectations to a level that lets them skate by in immaturity. “We’re just kids.” is no excuse for anything coming from the mouth of someone who claims to have the Spirit of the Living God living in them! Don’t be afraid to set the bar high.
  3. With Humility. A student who’s inconsistent in his walk doesn’t need a condescending youth leader to tell him how to do it right. He needs a fellow traveler, who’s a little further along the journey and who has learned from a few stumbling moments of his own. Humility will help you learn from your own inconsistencies so you can courageously and graciously help a student find their footing.

2 Replies to “How Should You Handle Inconsistency in Youth Ministry?”

  1. Can you say this entire weekend!

    Had a great night with absolutely nothing bad that happened (that I’m aware of) at a concert Saturday night, then Sunday youth, everything went bad and people complaining fighting me on every little thing, ridiculous.

    1. It’s crazy, right Sean? I’ve found that happens a lot, too. Great moments are often followed by ridiculous behavior. I think it’s strategic on Satan’s part to kill the momentum that God’s building. Fortunately, God’s grace over-powers our inconsistency and immaturity big time!

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