I used to think that Student Ministries just met on Wednesday nights, sang a couple worship songs, listened to a sermon, and ended with some game time. Then I got hired as an actor for a Christian ministry and realized it is so much deeper than that. I got hired as an actor for Student Life Camp in 2014 specifically to play a teenage atheist who wrestled with the idea of God. I always thought that it was weird playing an atheist on stage in front of thousands of students. I sometimes wondered if it was wrong of me to do so, and that I was making them not want to follow Jesus. However, through that performance, a student who did not believe in Jesus came up to me one night and said: “I am who you are on stage… and I do not want to be that way anymore.” From there, we had a conversation about Jesus, and I shared the Gospel with Him, and that night He came to know Jesus as Savior. From that personal experience, I will never doubt creativity in ministry again. Instead, I fully support it.
Combating a Diverse Culture
One thing that was taught to me in the years that I studied Youth Ministry at Liberty University is that we must understand the culture to reach the culture. I am not talking about “Church” or “Christian” culture because we as believers know that culture all too well. We know the trends of Christian culture so well that we are able to laugh at Babylon Bee articles making a satire of that culture. The culture I am talking about is that of the lost world around us. From mere observation, I have concluded that we do live a very diverse culture that is always changing, especially in youth culture. A decade ago is when I was old enough to be in youth group, and the only problems I really faced was popularity and girls. But today, thirteen-year-olds are faced with so many struggles, issues, and outlets that I couldn’t even fathom, and I am only 23. Now I am assuming my audience here, I am speaking to multiple age group generations of Student Ministers. However, whether you are Student Minister in your 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, etc. here is one thing that has always remained true. These students STILL need a relationship with Jesus Christ.
That will never change. The Gospel will never change. And fortunately, the Gospel is always enough.
We change. We have always changed. Culture is always changing.
And a student ministry that is rooted in the Gospel and is constantly trying to engage our diverse youth culture must develop a strategy to do so by using the culture to reach the culture for the sake of the Gospel. Thus, we need to get creative.
Creativity Is Biblical
Before I give supporting scripture for this point, can I point out the obvious? WHO UNDERSTANDS CREATIVITY MORE THAN GOD!? He is the creator of the universe. He made the stars in the sky that we paint, the beautiful snowy mountains we stand in awe of, the beautiful fields of flowers that we photograph, the calming waves of the ocean we film, and the list goes on and on. He knew what he was doing, he created everything with His perfect vision. He made it beautiful, and this was not by accident. I know this because every time I look at the beauty of His creation, I am reminded of how beautiful He is. His creation glorifies Him. Therefore, my response to this is to glorify Him as well with whatever I may create.
A verse I use in support of creativity, and how any person can glorify God is through 1 Cor 9:22-23 “To the weak, I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means, I might save some. 23 I do it all for the sake of the gospel that I may share with them in its blessings.”
In these verses, Paul gives us his method of how he shares the gospel with others. I encourage you to read this whole passage for further context, but sum up the big idea here, Paul is expressing this idea I have phrased as “Meeting people where they are.” When it comes to Student Ministry, we need to meet students where they are. I believe that Paul would not have waited for these students to just waltz into Church and partake in its culture. Instead, I believe that Paul would have identified their culture, seen their need for Jesus, and would have infiltrated that culture all for the sake of the Gospel. With this in my mind, when I look at today’s culture in student ministry, I see students constantly being enticed by creativity. Whether it be movies, music, clothing, games, etc. The “market” for creativity is great, and the church can definitely use this as a platform for the gospel.
Using Creativity as a Platform for the Gospel
“To reach people no one else is reaching we must do things no one else is doing.” – Craig Groeschel, Pastor of Life.Church
I repeat this phrase a lot in my head when I think about creativity in student ministry. What can our student ministries be doing to reach people in need of the gospel? I want you to think about a group of students in your community that you want to reach. I wish that I could give you the specific answer on how to achieve them, but the problem is I don’t know the students you are thinking about. You do. One thing that you and I both know is the Gospel, and that Jesus can radically change the lives of those students. It is up to you to create a way to reach them by meeting them where they are. It requires you to get creative. Whether it be a new event, a spoken word, a video, song, and the list goes on. The beauty of an option is that if it is rooted in scripture, it can be used as a platform for the gospel.
Peter is a current Creative and Communications Resident at Brentwood Church in Lynchburg, Virginia. He graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Youth Ministry from Liberty University in May of 2017. Peter has spent that past 5 years involved in several parachurch student ministry organizations such as Student Life Camp and Liberty University’s YouthQuest. He is passionate about Student Ministry and creative outlets, and hopes to be able to use both for the sake of the Gospel. Peter enjoys studying about leadership, movies, hip-hop/rap music, and endless amounts of laughter. For speaking inquiries, please feel free to email him at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.