I have been in my share of youth pastor gatherings and trainings where the question was asked, "Why do you do what you do?", not necessarily just to me, but to the group as a whole.
As I consider one possible answer to that question, I am brought to this thought; we exist to produce echoes.
As you all know, an echo is a fairly simple concept. Someone speaks and then pauses to hear its reverberation in the room, cavern or canyon. The truest joy in the echo, is the number of times in row we hear it repeated.
Now consider the lives of an American student: rich, poor, black, white, middle or high school. Our teenage students are bombarded by noise throughout the day. In the midst of the thousands of messages that are resounding in the mind and hearts of teens, we find our responsibility to produce something that echoes for the sake of the Gospel.
The scientific research and evidence is overwhelmingly clear that humans do not often intake information as transforming or changing unless they receive it multiple times. Consider the forming of a habit, or the memorization of facts; both of these require repetition to be effective. The same is true in a student’s life on his/her journey toward the gospel. I believe our call is to produce echoes in the hearts and minds of teenagers.
There are other layers of consideration when it comes to echoes. Early in my time as a YP, I realized I was spending 3-5 hours weekly conveying the gospel message to my students. They would return to a home where real discipleship “should” be happening over multiple hours of interaction. It was evident when parents would echo the messages. My heart broke for those who went to a home where there were no echoes, just silence. Echoes are crucial to the development of true discipleship in a student’s life.
Hopefully, if you are reading this, you are not a "one man" or "one woman" show in the youth ministry you serve. In fact, returning to my original question asked in this article, "Why do you do what you do?". Often the right answer is that our job is to be an equipper of the saints. And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, (Ephesians 4:11, 12 ESV).
Our job it seems often boils down less to direct contact with students, and more often to the enablement and equipping of adult and student leaders. In this case, as we pour out a consistent message and cast vision of re-stating that message, we once again produce echoes. When it comes to equipping, the reverberation of the vision is crucial. For what we are doing is creating, echoes of echoes.
For now, I would ask you to take a few minutes, pause ('Selah' if you will) and consider how are you using echoes to the benefit of the Kingdom in your ministry. Bottom line, like anything, echo is a choice. So make a plan, share it often, and watch the power of echoes work. "The truest joy in the echo is the number of times we hear it repeated."