You've seen the commercials. The guy with the clunky glasses shows up out of nowhere with the network of people standing behind him. He gently reminds the naysayer (who is trying to scare the Verizon user with threats of "the dead zone") that he has a network to support him.
The Verizon guy is my new favorite illustration of what youth leaders are called to be (and what's awesome is that many of them have clunky glasses too!) Our teenagers are in "the dead zone" every day. They are getting attacked by the flesh and the world all the time. Whether it be sexual temptation, suicidal thoughts or deep-seeded anger many, if not most, of our teenagers think they are in "the dead zone" and, sometimes, they give up and give into the lies of the naysayer (one wild guess as to who he is.) The youth leader is called to show up to rebuke the naysayer and remind the teen that they are covered.
Who is supposed to be in the network that supports these teeangers as they are attacked by the lies of the naysayer?
Moms and dads: According to Deuteronomy 6 God calls parents to be the primary network of spiritual support at home. Parents are called to live out their faith authentically in front of their kids and bring up the faith consistently to their kids.
Christian adults: According to Titus 2 older men and to be a role model for the younger men and older women are to teach and train the younger women. In other words, EVERY Christian adult has a built in next generation responsibility to be a part of the support network for the next generation in their own congregation!
How dare we entrust ten, fifty or a hundred teenagers to a single youth leader to spiritually mentor singlehandedly! It takes a network of godly Christian adults to support the teenagers in the dead zone and ward off the lies of the Evil One. And, no, I'm not just referring to adults who volunteer to help out with the youth group. Of course they play a huge role. But so should every Christian adult in the church! We are all responsible to encourage the next generation, set the pace for them with our lives and do our best to challenge them to live of "uninterupted service" to Jesus.
The Holy Trinity: The primary "network" of support for every teenager is The Trinity. According to Christ's high priestly prayer in John 17 Jesus invites us into the fellowship of community with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit every single day. He wants us to be one with Him and them as they are one with each other. I don't know for sure all that means, but it's pretty awesome. What a blessed fellowship! What a powerful network (do you think "G3″ could stand for the three persons in the Godhead? G3. Get it? Okay maybe not.)
In many ways the youth leader is the point where all of these categories can come together to support a teenager. The youth leader is standing out front reminding the teenager that there is an entire group of adults, parents and Divine personalities supporting them so that they can know they are covered anywhere they go!
Let this illustration serve as a reminder to us as parents and adults that we are to stand behind our youth leader as they stand behind our teenagers. Let's not leave our youth leaders in the dead zone. They need our support as they support our teenagers.
Let it serve as a reminder to our youth leaders that they can't do this job alone. They must call forth their entire support network (parents, adults and the Trinity) to get the job done right.
It's enough to make me want to go out and buy some clunky glasses (on second thought…no.)