I like board games and I like card games but I’m not really good at either of them. I just like to play the games because I like people. I’m not much of a competitor, I just really like to be a part of the game. Which makes me a very, very irritating partner to have in Rook.
Growing up I always wanted to play role playing games but the ones I’ve seen seem to require an awful lot of math. I often say that I got into youth ministry so I wouldn’t have to do math.
A gaming company actually fixed that for people like me. A company called Wizkids invented a type of Role playing miniature called HeroClix. A heroClix miniature has a small dial at the bottom of it that you rotate to indicate points or damage for a character. Which makes the whole process of doing math in an RPG less painful.
In youth ministry often we want to move kids down the path from encountering Jesus or church for the first time directly to conversion and then immediately to baptism. This almost never happens, instead with teenagers the journey to spiritual maturity is sometimes long and winding.
A student will experience God in a powerful way at a youth retreat and fall apart 2 weeks later at a party. They will begin a daily bible reading plan after youth group only to fail miserably by the next tuesday. For a youth leader this might seem like no progress is being made and many times leaders become frustrated and discouraged because they don’t see fruit for their efforts.
I think we are attempting to read too much into these small missteps and are not seeing the important moments that are actually changing the lives of students. I’ve attempted to change the dialogue by changing the measuring language. Now I simply encourage leaders to help students move 1 click closer to Jesus. Don’t be overly hung up on the grandiose gestures or the big new commitments, instead be watching and looking for subtle movements closer to Jesus.
What do these subtle movements look like? An increase in consistency of attendance is one. A willingness to bring a friend is another. Even a student reaching out to share their fears, frustrations or doubts can be a huge milestone for students.
Look for these small incremental changes and stop worrying about the monumental jaw dropping moments of life change. Those will still happen when we push for them, or give opportunities for them but in the times between the monumental keep focusing on helping students get 1 click closer to Jesus.