Wednesday, April 30, 2008

More Gardening

I see the purpose of my posts as providing a springboard for discussion of youth ministry. Generally, I just post and then read your comments. I've never yet joined the discussion and commented.

There seems to be need for clarification on my last post. My "gardening" story was excerpted from a training piece I produced for my youth volunteers a few years ago. I failed to realize that removing it from it's original context changed the reaction that some had to it.

Several comments on this blog centered around the idea that the farmer with a big field should go hire more help. If you're going to have a big garden, you're going to need lots of helpers (i.e. if you've got more kids in youth group than you know what to do with, get more people to disciple them). I agree. And as one commenter implied, it's really not all that radical of an idea. Good stuff.

However, that wasn't why I originally used the story in my training piece. The comments caught me off guard. I had originally used this story smack dab in the middle of a discussion of fruit (see Measuring Real Success). Basically, the story was designed to spark discussion about the QUALITY of fruit we see in our kids in relation to how thin we youth workers seem to spread ourselves. In the context of my string of posts, the discussion understandably went the QUANTITY route (an equally good discussion).

But I'm curious about the discussion this will generate. Assume:
  • YOUR FARM IS TOO BIG (i.e. You've got more teens than you can feasibly disciple).
  • THERE ARE NO HELPERS (i.e. You've tried to recruit adult disciplers but are unsuccessful - for whatever reason).

Choose one:

A) Put priority/energy in only the plants that will be most fruitful, knowing some plants will die.
B) Put equal priority in all plants, knowing that the quality of fruit will likely be lower for all the plants.

This is real. It's something we all struggle with. In youth ministry there's always more good to be done than time to do it!


RC Gale said...

I'd say equal priority is impossible, but equal prayer isn't.

salttheplanet said...

Equal priority seems quite possible...but extremely unhealthy (as described in the story and as seen in my own struggles with youth ministry).

Admittedly, I do not always do well in asking/raising up people to help do the work. I could certainly work on how many people I am recruiting to tend the fruit as well as what I am teaching them about fruit tending.

It seems to me a good way to do this is for me to tend a little section of the garden and then share/receive insights from other fruit tenders in the same patch and in different patches.

I also need to remember that I may be tending watermelons and pumpkins while others may be tending squash and zucchini. My soil quality may be different and the amount of rain I am getting (especially as compared to those in different patches) may vary as well.

But...I tend to my section of the garden as best I can (on my good days) and hope for the best.

Scott Williams said...

Over the years, I found this situation quite frustrating. How do we balance this. When faced with this I found it most useful to disciple the few who, in turn, helped me disciple a few. I found the teens most useful in this area. It didn't always work as it took time to get the teens involved in discipling other teens, but when they did it often had incredible results.

The truth is, the majority of the young adults (previous teens) who are still in church are so because of the influence of other teens who decided to demonstrate Christ to them and disciple them.

Tucker said...

there's a buzzword in conversations about evangelism known as "multiplication." simply put, it is more effective to disciple than to evangelize. let me explain.

if you share the gospel with 100 different students every single year and every one of them got saved, the number of people saved would be awesome.

but if you walked alongside three students for a single year, and they become disciples of Christ who could then disciple others, then the next year four of you would be discipling four new people. at that multiplication every year, you could save the whole planet in a very short time!

obviously, either scenario seems a bit unrealistic. but the point is simple: addition is not as effective as multiplication.

i think this logic applies to student ministry. the point of the great commission as i see it is to make disciples (life-long followers) rather than converts. those disciples should be able to multiply themselves.

therefore, i think invest more time in the few fruitful while investing at least some time in the others, praying that they become fruitful.

Anonymous said...

This seems to be a good subject, as I am in a innercity Youth Ministry. Alot of the students arent churched at all and dont go to church yet. We have been open for 9 weeks and 15 kids have been saved and about 100 kids are coming each week. I feel that I have to try and pour into the new beleivers first and keep evangelizing the rest of the group. Thanks for the great blog. my blog is