Last night at Live I was the victim of a cruel April Fool’s joke. Can you believe it? Me. Why would anyone want to prank me? As the service was about to begin I walked through the lobby one last time to ensure all of our students were making their way into the auditorium. I was visiting with a few of them and remarked to myself, “Dang, where are all our students tonight?”
As service began and the first song was being played I looked around the room and realized we had only a fraction of the students we normally would for a Wednesday night service. Now, frustration and annoyance was beginning to set in. Apparently I wasn’t hiding it well because my wife said to me in an understanding tone just low enough for me to hear, “It’s alright honey.”
Despite the low attendance I decided I would portray the spirit of Gideon and worship God despite my dwindling numbers. So I lifted my hands and closed my eyes tighter than normal, as to block out the record low attendance. At the completion of the first song we ran a Mid-Week Update video, masterfully hosted by Prarthana (a student) and edited beautifully by Jeff (one of our leaders). Then out of nowhere two students jumped up on stage and began greeting and welcoming those who actually bothered to show up to service. “This isn’t in the service order,” I thought to myself as my face crinkled.
Then it happened, out of one of the side doors to the auditorium students began pouring out. Some of leaders were with them, all that came through the door were smirking, smiling, and laughing as if they intuitively knew this would bother me. The harsh reality was… it did. I was so relieved to know that we had more students in the building than I had originally thought. As it turned out attendance was above our average for the year.
So now I sit here, reflecting on the prank that was. I find myself pondering a few questions repeatedly. One, if attendance last night was as it appeared (way below average) was I failing in my role as a youth pastor? If that’s true and I lived out that reality than every week, I would be riding a roller coaster of emotions ranging from exuberance to despair. Two, am I to sit idly by as attendance drops off and people quit coming and chalk it up to God’s will? After all, it’s His church and He said he’ll build it. Question three, if the first two questions are misguided how am I to judge my performance as a pastor and leader?
It’s to that question that I actually have an answer. My role as the youth pastor at Fairwood church is to serve my God, my pastor, and the students and parents that make up Live Youth Ministries. I serve God by loving Him, loving people, and by using my gifts to bring Him glory (not me). I serve my pastor by working hard to ensure that quality youth ministry is offered to those who attend and to those yet to come to Fairwood Church. This supports him and adds value to our church as a whole. Finally, I serve the students & parents of our ministry by loving, leading, challenging, and empowering them to live for God in ways they didn’t even think were possible.
So I’ve decided… that’s what I’m going to do.