So the plan is to share the gospel with those who haven’t yet heard. You’ve been asked–or at least given permission–to connect with youth in your community who are not Christian. Your congregation has tasked you–as the youth director, youth pastor or youth volunteer–to take a frontline role with them in fulfilling the Great Commission. This is exciting stuff! This might be intimidating stuff, too.
But, what if it works? I know that sounds funny, but the question needs to be asked. What if it works? What if you make the connections and non-Christian kids start showing up at church events asking questions? What if they show up and one of them wants to be baptized? These are good things, but are you ready for it? I don’t know if I was as ready as I could have been when it happened to me.
In May I received my first call as an Associate Pastor at LakePointe Church in Hot Springs, Arkansas. I had visited LakePointe a couple times and connected with some of our youth at several points prior to my official start date. So, I knew some of the more active youth and a group of adult volunteers. When I got here I met Michelle. One of the guys involved here was bringing her to church and youth activities. Michelle had just graduated from high school and was headed into the military. In fact, she was scheduled to report for basic within two weeks of my start date. After church on my second Sunday, Michelle told me she’d like to be baptized. Praise God! That was exciting news and I let her know I was stoked to hear this. But, I wasn’t quite sure what to do next.
This is what I meant by asking, “What if it works?” It’s not a question in the category of theology-in-a-textbook-far-removed-from-my-daily-life. This is a practical, hands-on, God’s-at-work-and-what-does-that-mean-for-my-role question. I knew right away that we would Baptize Michelle. But, my senior pastor and I had not talked about any expectations regarding pre-teaching or counseling. We hadn’t discussed parental or family involvement.* Youth ministry is always team ministry. If you’re working with youth in a church setting, you are part of a ministry team. More so, you’re not the lead member of that team. You’ve got a pastor who is leading your team. We have a pastor who leads our team here at LakePointe, and I want to answer questions in the same way that he would.
I was able to set a time for Michelle and I to meet and talk about Baptism that week. I guess it worked out well that the first day that really worked for her was Wednesday. That meant I had until then to engage my pastor in conversation. We would be on the same page as I met with Michelle and we prepared for her Baptism. And now, I’ll know what to do next time. I’ll be ready to answer the “What if it works?” questions. And, I won’t be surprised when it works–because when “it” entails sharing God’s Word, He’s promised to see that “it” works as He wills. (Check Isaiah 55:11 for that promise.)
*Other questions worth discussing with your senior pastor might include: Must Baptism always be administered in a congregational service or may it be administered at other times and even locations? What is the follow-up and discipleship plan for new Christians after Baptism?