Monday, January 19, 2009

Travis Deans is resigning from Youth Ministry

I've been doing youth ministry for twelve years now (that's me this past Saturday) and every so often, usually a couple times a year, I start asking myself "Why am I doing this?", "What is it that I'm really supposed to be doing here?", "Why don't I go get a real job flippin' burgers or something?" I have to admit, discouragement creeps in at times! The pay is not good, things never go like you plan them to, people don't often see the "vital" importance of what we do, and youth ministry feels a lot like herding cats. Why should I keep doing this stuff?

Well, when those dark moods come over me, four big ideas keep bringing me back into focus...

1) "The local church is the hope of the world" - Bill Hybels

Of all our nations' institutions, the church offers something very unique. Schools provide education, doctors provide medication, hospitals provide operations, government provides legislation, prisons provide incarceration, but only the church offers transformation of the human heart through a relationship with Jesus Christ. Therefore, I believe with all my heart that every church needs a healthy, growing youth ministry - because every teenagers needs Jesus and a church family.

2) "When God looks at a city, he does not see many churches, He sees one church in many congregations." - Ed Silvoso

For the past four hundred years churches have been competing with each other. The splintering of the body of Christ into thousands of pieces has been a long, sad story. I believe passionately that someday the church will move away from competing against each other to completing each other - realizing that no one church/denomination is the whole body and that we will never fulfill the great commission alone. We must work together! Some competition is good to challenge us and keep us from becoming mediocre, but we need to see churches communicating with each other, cooperating with each other and completing each other in building the Kingdom. Therefore, I believe that every community needs a network of church youth ministries - because we can do this better when we do it together! Here's an article I wrote three years ago called "From Competing to Completing" if you'd like to read more about this idea.

3) "Some wish to live within the sound of a chapel bell; I wish to run a rescue mission within a yard of hell." - C.T. Studd

All missionaries have known for centuries that to reach a group of people you have to go where they are and the group of people that youth pastors want to reach spend most of their time all together in one place - school. Kids spend five days a week, 180 days a year, 7 or 8 hours a day (or more if they're in any kind of activity) at school. And all of our churches have students in public schools - what happens at local schools affects all of our kids. Therefore, I'm convinced that every school needs reached by a network of churches. When youth pastors/youth leaders come together one of big questions should be, "What can we do together to serve our local schools and to reach students in that place?" A youth pastor named Mark Moder observed in article called "Where Students Are" that if we are called to be fishers of men, we should remember that fish swim in schools.

4) "If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our bodies. If they perish, let them perish with our arms about their knees. Let no one go there unwarned and unprayed for." - C H Spurgeon

I love this quote - it just reminds me that we can never say "we have a lot of people in our church, that's good enough". Every person needs to hear about Jesus. I believe passionately that every students needs an opportunity to hear about Jesus and to get connected with a local church. There are 50,000 teenagers in this part of southwestern Pennsylvania - that's serious job security - I'm never going to run out of work here!

So, no, I'm definitely not resigning from youth ministry. I have four great reasons to get out of bed every morning and to keep doing what I'm doing. Most of all, I want to do it because Jesus loves me and calls me to follow Him no matter how hard it is, no matter what happens. Jesus is worth it all. Sometimes I just need to remind myself what this is all about. I have to say a big "Thank You!" to my wife, Judy, who keeps encouraging to do this and to my partner in Teens For Christ, Pete Malik, who helped me find God's calling for my life. And I thank you to for letting me express my heart to you in this post.


7 comments:

Rich: said...

Travis,

I noticed that you posted this past article at 4:27 a.m.. The time of a post can often times be telling.... I don't believe I caught in your post were you will be going from here? You will be sorely missed in the world of Youth Ministry. Very few men have been as faithful as you have during the time I have known you. Your passion, encouraging spirit, commitment to networking and purity of heart have been obvious and inspiring to us all! I am confident that were ever you go from here, you will carry all of that with you and be transformational within the world because of it. You are and remain a blessing to so many!

Blessings Brother!

Rich

Richard said...

Travis,

Just wanted to say thanks for all you have contributed to youth ministry... People like you and Pr. David were a real inspiration for me as I was learning to follow Christ. I think we will all be excited to see where you will go from here! May the Lord bless you and your family on whatever road you take. Best wishes..

Rich K

Rev Kev said...

OK...I'm confused. Your blog title suggests that you are resigning from youth ministry, but then your final paragraph suggests otherwise (after some incredibly powerful testimony, by the way!) Then the two comments left for you by others bid you adieu...

Whatever the case, whether you are remaining in youth ministry (and the blog title was an attention-getter) or you are moving along (and will still allow God to use you in powerful ways), you are one dynamic man of God and it is always my privilege to call you a brother in Christ!

Travis Deans said...

Hey folks, no I'm not resigning. Just wanted to give everyone a little jolt! Sorry if I confused you.

Kerri M said...

Your so funny. Your a die hard and ou bring joy and blessing to all who meet you. Keep on keeping on. and Thank you for all you do.

Matthew R Bowers said...

See what you did, Travis? You made people think you were quitting.
I was not fooled! I read the article.

Anonymous said...

Travis

You have inspired me to be more active in my Church. I felt very sad when I read the headline and am sure glad I read it thru. Keep up the good work. Stella