In my almost 14 years of youth work there have been many transitions that have changed the dynamic of the ministry. I have seen music styles change, clothing styles evolve or regress in some ways, and much more, but the one thing that hasn’t changed is the concept of being present. Being present is possibly the one thing that makes any form of ministry successful and allows for walls to be broken down and doors to be opened so lives can be changed.
Jesus shared this ministry model for His followers and for those who would be taking part in the activity of discipleship (which should be everyone who has a relationship with Christ). He spent time with individuals in their homes, He walked into their brokenness, and He knew details of their lives. Granted, He was the Son of God so He didn’t really need a whole lot of help figuring out what was going on in their lives, but He still took the necessary time to build some sort of relationship with them.
The same goes in our ministry, whether it is formal or informal (more on this in Wednesday’s post), since we need to know the people we are walking with. In a society that has become disconnected due to cell phones, social media, text messaging, etc. we have lost the sense of presence. As we become more and more disconnected, it seems more and more important for the act of being present to occur. It is interesting to see what happens when I get a chance to sit with a young person, cell phones gone, and I get to listen to what has happened in their life. It seems like a geyser explodes and amazing beauty comes flowing out of the mouth of the individual I took the time to be present with.
Young people as well as adults need people in their lives that will take the time to know who they are. They need to know there is someone who will be more than a profile picture that continuously bombards them with game invites on Facebook. They are longing, actually, we are longing for people to be with us in this life we are living. The purpose of presence is to lift up, encourage, motivate, love, hug, cry with, or even, dare I say it, listen to, another person so they feel valued. As a community seeking to live life together, we must be present together. We are not alone. Take the time today to spend longer than 5 minutes talking with and actively listening to someone. This is not only for your health, but theirs. Jesus did it as an example for us to follow and He knew, out of all the changes that would occur in this world, being present is the one constant that can create change.