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The timing between waves was erratic, definitely not an exact science. The ocean would swell—anticipation would ebb and flow as the right wave would fail to materialize. Occasionally an impatient surfer would launch out on an imperfect wave simply from boredom.

Watching the surfers from the distant shore was intriguing. Their commitment to the task was obvious by the cost of their equipment and their investment of time and energy. There they sat, poised and watchful, for the next perfect wave.

From my observation, the surfers rode only a few waves that they would have classified as ideal. I timed the best waves and the ride time was about 5 seconds. The timing between waves seemed interminable to me watching them sit statuesquely on their surfboards “Waiting for 5 Seconds of Glory.”

I could not help but make the parallel with youth ministry. I thought of many sincere youth leaders and pastors whose ministries are like those surfers. These incredible people are:

  • Deeply committed to the task.
  • Willing to invest time and energy into the ministry.
  • Open to spending money for just the right ministry materials.

These leaders want to make a difference—to have an impact. So they wait for the next big wave . . . or should I say student ministry trend?  The problem is they do not have a long-term strategy. They just keep hoping the next wave or student ministry trend will be the “Big One” which revolutionizes their student ministry.

This approach is costly on an immediate as well as an eternal scale. Here are just a few of those costs:

  • The start-up expense for a new, yearly trend-driven ministry approach can be prohibitive.
  • The leadership dropout can be higher with trend-driven ministries.
  • The replacement of leadership is time consuming if you do not have a consistent leadership development strategy.
  • The potential lack of investment in long-range leadership development fails to raise the bar for quality leadership.
  • The student turnover ratio tends to be higher as the church becomes one more area of their lives dominated by trends.
  • The lack of consistency in the discipleship of students in a trend-driven ministry produces anemic students.
  • The students become casualties of a trend-driven student ministry due to the lack of development of a long-range strategy for their lives.
  • The students who embrace an improper viewpoint of principle-centered ministry have a long-range negative effect on the church in general.
  • The student ministries failing to fulfill 2 Timothy 2:2 tend to become ingrown.

The thrill of operating by ministry trends diminishes if we do not make an eternal difference in the lives our students. We must enlist, equip and engage students for ministry; it is not enough to entertain them. As responsible leaders, we cannot afford to operate with a ministry trend mindset “Waiting for 5 Seconds of Glory.”

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