The Stars of Rooted
I sat on a bar stool eating a burger in Manhattan in the hour following Rooted 2014. My friend, David, and I discussed the line up, focusing on the extraordinary gifts of many of those who lead the conference. We may have dedicated ten minutes to the full review.
But then, we dedicated about twenty minutes discussing two men that we’ve become friends with over the last three conferences. These two men come from complete opposite corners of the United States, but they possess a similar meekness and humility that makes them impossible not to love.
Both of these men are very bright and insightful. They are quiet in temperament and great at listening. They both exude warmth. Neither ever seeks attention or brags about their accolades or accomplishments. Both have worked faithfully and grown considerable ministries in smaller churches with practices centered on relationships, the Gospel, discipleship, and Bible teaching.
David and I agreed that we gleaned so much from the extraordinary worship leader, session speakers, and workshop teachers; but we seemed to be even more influenced and transformed by the humility and kindness from our short conversations and limited time with these two men.
They are a living witness of the Beatitudes. The Lord, through his Holy Spirit, has made them poor in Spirit, meek, pure in heart, and merciful. They follow and serve Jesus with loyalty and without any fanfare.
I came away from the conference with a yearning for God to transform me and to make me new. I long to become less, and for Christ to become more in my life – such as I have seen in the lives of my two friends.
I do not know if these two men will ever publish a book or speak at a domed stadium- the kind of accolades that tend to give one “status” in the Christian world (however backwards that idea may be.) They are certainly capable of it. But when I am around them, I know that I am in the midst of giants in the Kingdom of God.
Why write an article that anonymously highlights two humble youth ministers? These two men represent well the hope of Rooted. In previous generations of youth ministry, the culture of entertainment elevated personalities. Youth ministers felt intense pressure to attract the attention and win the affections of young people. The success of the ministry and the spiritual welfare of students hinged on their performance and likability as a “pied piper.”
When the Gospel becomes the core of youth ministry, big personalities become less significant. When ministry centers on God’s word, confidence shifts from human effort to the power of the Word and the Spirit. Youth ministers diminish their place as the face of the ministry to clear the way for the news of the Cross and Word of God to go forward with the power of the Holy Spirit.
Under such an approach, the humble, quiet, sincere person who cares about the students and remains faithful to the truth has a place. The loud, hyper youth minister has a place, too, but he or she is freed from performance pressure, because everything hinges on God’s work through the Holy Spirit.
While various talents aid youth ministers in their vocation, one never can underestimate the essential ingredient of humility, which the Gospel intrinsically engenders. As I see in my two friends, the amazing sacrificial love of Jesus lessens our view of the youth pastor’s place in ministry and elevates the centrality of God and His word.