Before my seniors leave for college, we spend a good deal of time talking about various campus ministries. Our hope is to encourage students to get involved in them (or in a church on their college campus).
As part of this ongoing conversation, I then follow-up with students a few weeks after they head to college to find out how their search is going. At this point, students often feel frustrated. Few, if any, campus ministries feel like their youth group… Or even their home church. Rather than continue searching, many students want to give up, convinced they’ll never find another church home.
During one of these conversations, a student told me about a ministry she’d checked out. She’d signed up to be on their e-mail list and promptly started receiving updates. Each had a tag line about how their ministry was the place to meet other hip Christians.
This tag line repulsed my student.
Since hip was not a word she used to describe herself, she couldn’t imagine attending a ministry targeting such a crowd.
Even more problematic for her, however, was the fact that she was quite certain Jesus didn’t convince people to follow him because it was the hip thing to do. Instead, she was sure the opposite was true. Jesus’ crowd was decidedly NOT hip.
As I listened to this student talk, I found myself wondering, how often do we do the same thing in our youth ministries? How often do we describe our ministry in such a way that we unintentionally exclude people?