For every fan of Major League Baseball, Opening Day is something special. Baseball parks are spruced up. There are new rosters. Teams are a mere 162 games away from their first game in the playoffs. Opening Day is a day full of hope for every baseball fan (even Cubs fans – sorry, couldn’t resist since I’m a lifelong Cardinals fan). Opening day represents a new beginning and a lot of promise.
Similarly, the impact that churches and collegiate ministries are making in the lives of college students and young adults is even more exciting. Young adult and collegiate ministry leaders have the unique opportunity to point individuals involved in their ministries toward a lifelong pursuit of Christ. And, like Opening Day, it’s representative of new beginning and promise.
Here are three things young adult and college ministry leaders should consider:
1. It’s a new beginning for many who come into our ministries.
It doesn’t matter who won the World Series last year. On Day 1 of baseball season, everyone gets a fresh start.
As we interact with young adults in our ministries, many of them are looking for a fresh start in life. They’re wondering, What does it mean to follow Christ? How can I live a life of purpose when I know what my past looks like? Many young adults enter our ministries broken and worn from a past that didn’t look very promising. I’m thankful we’re able to walk with them through a fresh start.
2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.”
Young adults need to be reminded of the hope that exists in following Christ. There will be losses and strikeouts, but each day brings a new hope to which we can attach our purpose in Christ. As leaders, we have a front row seat to encourage them in this promise.
2. The season is long. Remind them to be consistent.
The best teams in baseball take the approach of focusing on one game at a time. In baseball terms, the season is long, and there’s a real need for consistency.
Among young adults and college students, there’s a desire for instantaneous results. That’s a consequence of living in a society that tries to meet our every need at any preferred time. However, in our walk with Christ, there’s a need for us to model consistency and perseverance. We must help young adults understand that the journey is long, and the habits they pursue now will begin a lifestyle that will follow them for years to come.
As leaders, we must consider how we’re modeling a lifestyle of consistently pursuing Christ, as opposed to the instantaneous fix that many place their trust in.
Romans 5:3-4 reminds us “And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope.”
3. Know your team leaders and depend on them through the season of ministry.
Every championship baseball team will have a couple of players who step into the role of a team leader. They may not be the superstar players, but they have a voice that makes a difference.
Who are the young adults in your ministry that others listen to when they speak? Who has the voice in your ministry and community that will lead a group to more than numbers, but impact?
As young adult ministry leaders, we have the unique role of training future leaders. We must depend on those within our ministries who have influence and wisdom. Ministries are changing on a yearly basis as individuals come and go – it’s the nature of working with college students and young adults. Through each new season, make strong efforts to identify the leaders within your ministry and how you can pour your influence and wisdom into them.
In its own unique way, doing ministry with college students and young adults has an Opening Day kind of feel to it. The hope and anticipation is stirred within us for something really special to happen along the journey. Here’s to a great new season ahead!
Mark Whitt is the Collegiate and Young Adult Specialist at Lifeway Christian Resources. Before joining Lifeway, he spent many years on the campus of Murray State University as a campus minister. Connect with Mark via Twitter.