By Tim Mahan, Highland Park Church
I was playing basketball with a group of guys trying my best to impersonate Kobe by yelling “Kobe” on every fadeaway jumper. I was new into youth ministry being a volunteer youth pastor for a few months when I found myself talking to a well-known local youth pastor who I still respect to this day. As we were playing, he brought up a recent event that my youth ministry had put on called Rise Together, and asked the question most youth pastors should stop asking, “How many students attended?” I told him that 500 students had attended, and he looked puzzled and confused. As I realized that he wasn’t celebrating what God did that night, I broke the ice and asked, “What are you thinking?” He began to do the math and mentioned that if 500 students came to my event, he’d probably have 1,500 students because his youth ministry was triple the size of mine. It was at that moment that God put the conviction in my heart to never make youth ministry a competition.
Can we just call it out, competition is great! There is nothing I enjoy more than beating other youth pastors or students in some basketball, golf, or Madden! Competition is something I need, but it’s not needed in the Kingdom of God. Not when children’s souls are on the line!
What is the root issue for wanting to compete with other ministries in your area?
This is what got the enemy kicked out of heaven. We must not use the platform of youth ministry to play the devil’s game.
So what are ways that we can cut the tension of competition in youth ministry today? I’m glad you asked. Here are three things that create the beauty of combination rather than competition:
1) Connect with other youth pastors.
Genuinely connect. Don’t connect with them to get something from them. Don’t connect with them only when you want them to bring their kids to your conference. Don’t connect with them in hopes that they’ll invite you to speak at their event. You’re not connecting to get; you’re connecting to encourage and create chemistry. The devil’s game can’t work if no one is playing it.
2) Share your resources.
At Highland Park Youth, we have resources that some others might not have. So we share without asking for anything in return. Why? Because we are Kingdom people, not competition people. It would be really selfish of us to not share our resources with another youth ministry in need because we are afraid that it will bless them too much and they will steal our students. If we have the resources because somebody in the church tithes, then we must share. Not sharing resources might be how it works in the world, but in the Kingdom of God, it is all about the hearts of those who do not know God. This is about Kingdom impact, so we must share what God has given to us.
3) Swallow your pride.
Pride doesn’t look good on me, and it doesn’t look good on you. It’s ugly, it stinks, and it’s not fun to see. How can we swallow our pride?
You may be incredibly gifted and a truly inspiring leader who loves Jesus, but pride will never make you approachable. Invite local youth pastors to speak, bring them in to help with your events, create a community that proves you want them to win as much as you want to win. Approachability will always gain influence.
My prayer for the local church and for you is that we would be people who combine more and compete less. As our youth ministries get ready to turn and hit a nice fadeaway jumper for our communities, encourage others to do the same. We’re on the same team. Kobe!
- Feed loves to help equip and resource youth pastors in the local church. Reach out to us at [email protected] to find out how we can partner with and support you in your ministry.
- Reach out to youth pastors in your area and find a way to partner with one another as you reach the youth in your region with the Word of God.
- Check out Feed Lead: a collection of videos designed to equip you and your team with innovative approaches to youth ministry.