Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Competition or Lifestyle?

Right now I have a lot of friends and former students in Orlando competing in the National Fine Arts competition. I am at home holding down the fort because our group just didn't score high enough. That is another story for another day, because I feel like several entries should have qualified. Ask me, I'll tell you all about it. I'm not too worried about being politically correct. However, that is not the issue at hand.

As I spend time with other youth pastors, especially the veteran guys, I hear growing complaints about the FAF competition and all that is involved. Even in my own district I heard "why raise money to fly halfway across the country to impress people you don't know for five minutes?" One friend even blasted the event as teaching kids how to "play the ministry game". If those are truly the problems with the program, then it is no fault of the student as to the state of the event.

FAF serves as a means to mentor students in ministry, to give them a hands on opportunity to get involved and to try their hand at different aspects that could greatly enhance the ministry at their home church. I am sure the intent is not as much about competition, though I love to compete. It is about ministry. If students are "playing the game" it is the fault of the leadership at the individual church. If leaders do not continue to mentor and develop these students year round, it will be of no long term benefit.

Once again, the complaints of the masses usually boils down to someone "finding an easier way." I am amazed how many ministers want to carry a leadership position without doing any work. We have come a long way from when David refused to take some land for free, even for ministry. His sentiment was, "I will not give to God that which costs me nothing." All to often that is all we give to God. We want everything for nothing, in the name of ministry, of course. Need we remember that the land David was after was not for personal gain and that he could have simply claimed it because of the title he carried?

Though the title you carry may come with privileges, such as a week in Orlando ministering with students, you must be willing to make the sacrifice. Cheap and easy ministry produces cheap and easy parishioners. If we fail to connect these students into lifelong ministry is is ourselves we have to blame for the condition of the church. Find and develop talent. Never do ministry alone when you can take someone along with you. Besides, studies say you'll be gone soon anyway. Stay around a while and get something done.

Ministry is not an event or a competition, but a lifestyle, and FAF provides a training ground to critique and develop young talent.

Click on the streaming link below to view a short video on the Fine Arts Festival mentioned above.