Another Counselor

I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever-the Spirit of truth.” John 14:16

Consider this:

Jesus didn’t send His disciples into the world to make disciples with just their minds stuffed full of His amazing teachings from the past three years.

That wouldn’t have been enough.

He didn’t send them into the world to make disciples with just an armload of incredible experiences and miracles witnessed.

That wouldn’t have been enough.

He didn’t even send them out into the world to make disciples with just a dramatic commissioning ceremony on top of the Mt. of Olives.

Why? Because that still wouldn’t have been enough.

I think the disciples would have flamed out on their mission if Jesus had stopped there with His preparation of launching them out after their extended three year “mission trip.” Despite how amazing that time was, it wouldn’t have been enough to sustain them. Jesus knew that and that’s why He made further plans for success.

As a youth pastor I am often guilty of thinking that great teaching, great experiences and direct commissioning will produce great results in my students. If they get all three of those surely they are going to get home from a mission trip and keep living out their dependency on God, boldness for Christ and focus on His work that they gained on the trip. How could they not?! Yet I’ve witnessed far too often that students are excited and respond to what they learn, see and are challenged to do on the trip but eventually drift into living like they did before the trip.

Jesus didn’t just hope the disciples would “get it” from three years of listening to Him teach, watching Him work miracles and finally getting their famous commission to go and make disciples. He knew they need someone with them the whole way. So He promised and then gave them a Helper and Counselor. He gave them someone who would teach them, remind them of His words, and fill them with faith and boldness.

Let me draw two conclusions from this.
1) Part of maximizing the effect of mission trip is teaching and leading students to recognize and depend upon the ministry of the Holy Spirit in their lives. We as leaders need to trust that the Holy Spirit will do His work and pray towards that end.

2) We need to recognize that what gets encouraged gets repeated. That’s a big reason Jesus sent the Holy Spirit. No matter how dramatic of an experience students have on a mission trip, they NEED encouragement to repeat the same dependence on God to direct them , boldness to share Jesus with others, and commitment to spend time in Scripture and intercession.

The how will look different for each group but what we have done in our youth group is to invite students to be part of a team that meets 45 minutes before youth group starts. They spend this time praying for students who come and friends they want to see come, preparing to be ministers and not just participants, and learning what it means to be a spiritual leader in the group. It’s not a perfect system, but it does help keep the values of asking God to show us how He wants to use us that night, praying for and caring for those who don’t know Christ, and cementing our perspective that we are ministers and not just participants.

Another way to keep the lessons learned on the mission trip going is to plug your youth into serving in the church. Have them help out in children’s ministry, nursery, music, etc. Give them some challenges to step up to and serve. This creates ongoing opportunity for them to love others and depend on Jesus, especially when they aren’t sure they “got what it takes”.

Lastly, talk about the values on the mission trip often. Keep them fresh. As some of my students said to me a few months after the trip, “You’re really milking this mission trip aren’t you?” And my response, “This is a lifestyle, not just a mission trip experience.” Remind them of their experiences, lessons learned, and goals they shared once they got back home. If it starts feeling redundant it probably is just starting to sink in.

So join the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of your teens…be a helper and a counselor.

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