Youth ministry, Living Water, reaching students

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Have you ever had a hard moment in ministry, and it made you question whether you were doing all you could to further the kingdom of God?

richard ray130Richard Ray

Lately, I have been in contact with several youth ministers who have shared their stories of struggles in ministry as they strive to reach students for Christ. One such struggle happened when a youth minister found a student smoking marijuana while attending the church’s youth group. This minister did everything right in this situation by calling the parents and discussing the situation, while also challenging the youth to overcome this vice.

However, the minister still wondered whether he was getting through to these youth, even making the statement, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink.” He went on to say, “In moments like these, I feel at a loss.”

He was seeking answers we all seek when it comes to drawing others to Christ, especially when it concerns our students. I have spent a lot of quality time not only serving as a youth minister for 20 years, but also mentoring and encouraging this new generation of youth ministers.

Youth ministry is a challenge when faced with all the obstacles that must be overcome in the areas of social media, school activities, home life, peer pressure, loneliness and anger. Youth ministry is a challenge, but more importantly it is a calling—a calling to introduce others to Jesus Christ, just as Andrew did. In John 1:41-42, we read: “He first found his own brother Simon, and said to him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ (which is translated, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus.”

Andrew brought his brother to Jesus. What Andrew did was personal and effective. Andrew went and looked for his brother so he could introduce him to Jesus Christ.

Everything a youth minister does is to fulfill that calling of introducing students to Jesus Christ. Every program, event or game that is planned, along with each ballgame attended and each slice of pizza represents the youth minister looking for students to bring to Jesus.

As with the adage of leading a horse to water, a youth minister’s calling is to introduce students to the Living Water of Jesus Christ. However, it is always up to the student to drink from the well that never runs dry. You may have to introduce these students to Jesus many times over until they recognize Jesus as Savior, or maybe the seeds you planted in their youth will be harvested when they have moved beyond your sight when they become adults.

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I want to encourage youth ministers to be like Andrew and continue to introduce these students to Jesus Christ. You will experience moments in ministry that are challenging, that might even cause you to feel at a loss, but be assured the Lord is pleased with you, for you are fulfilling your calling of introducing students to Jesus Christ.

To contact your Bivocational/Small Church Association, go to or email at [email protected].

Richard Ray is executive director of the Texas Baptist Bivocational/Small Church Association and director of missions for Tri-Rivers Baptist Area.

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