For the past several months, I’ve been engaged in one of the most exciting things I’ve ever been a part of. What is it, you ask? Sandlot baseball in the backyard with my 3 year old son. You see, Holt (my son) is growing like crazy in his ability to swing a baseball bat, throw the ball, and even catch the ball.
However, when we first started playing ball in the backyard, he constantly held the bat incorrectly, would throw the ball 190ft away from where I was standing (thus contributing to my loss of 30lbs in the past year), and wouldn’t even consider getting in front of the ball to catch it. The game of baseball wasn’t foreign to him, but executing the basics sure seemed that way. But wait a second, he’s THREE….give the kid a break. (C’mon people. It’s an analogy.)
It wasn’t until I got off the back porch and got my hands dirty with my son that we saw progress. I had to encourage him, even when he kept messing up. I had to constantly help him hold his hands correctly on the bat. I had to show him that there wasn’t anything to be afraid of when the ball was coming towards him. I had to give him a target to throw the ball towards, and not just expect him to know that he’s supposed to throw it to my glove.
I’ve learned a lot from my son in the way I approach ministry.
As ministry leaders, we love to do the following:
- Tell students how to live out the gospel
- Give them the steps on how to do it
- Expect them to live as missionaries in their school with everything we’ve told them about Jesus.
What we should be doing is this:
- Teach them about the gospel and it’s beauty
- Come alongside them; pray that God would connect the dots between information and application.
- Provide mentoring and friendship when they miss the mark, and gracefully show them Christ.
- Equip them as missionaries, pray for them, and encourage them along the way.
We can’t do effective ministry from the dugout only. We’ve got to get in the game with our students. THIS is why I love the ministry of Small Groups. Our small group leaders are on the field, ready to play ball with these students. They are the ones who not only teach our students, but come alongside of them in the day to day aspects of life, provide intimate friendship, and unleash them on their mission fields. Small Group leader, your role is vital.
Let’s give our students the tools they need for life and godliness, and let them swing the bat.