By Dr. Kevin Thomas —
As a college-age youth minister, I was part of a phenomenal movement. Under my mentor’s leadership, our high school ministry grew from 25 to over 150 in just four weeks. Throughout that first year, I was amazed at how God was working through the teens in our ministry. When I returned to college for my sophomore year, my mentor assigned me to launch a new junior high ministry patterned after our high school ministry. I was thrilled with the opportunity and worked hard along with 7 other college students to reach younger teens for Christ. At our first meeting, we had 3 students. (Our marketing left something to be desired.) But, we continued our efforts, and four weeks later we launched with 150 junior high students. We averaged 75 for the rest of that year, and 10 students made first-time professions of faith. At the conclusion of my sophomore year, I was convinced that I was an expert in youth ministry.
The following years exposed my arrogance. In at least four new settings, I tried to replicate my previous success. I followed the process as though it were a blueprint or a recipe. I worked just as hard and employed the identical principles that led to phenomenal success in earlier years. Still, each of those new attempts feel flat. None came close to the level of success I experienced as a 20-year-old. Reality shattered my expert status.
In my failure, I discovered a more important truth. It’s not my blueprint or hard work that creates success in ministry. Skills, techniques, and creative ideas can be helpful, but they do not change lives and build ministries. I mistakenly thought I had mastered youth ministry without realizing that all ministry belongs to the Master.
We are wise to use all the strategic planning techniques available to try to transform our world, but we are fools if we think our strategies are enough. Ministry belongs to Jesus. It’s not by might, nor by power, but by His spirit that we will build His church in our community (Zechariah 4:6).
If we would transform the world, we must first follow Christ!