Pastoring a new generation of worship leaders, songwriters & creatives… the challenges and the great reward!
I remember many years ago when I was in Youth and hearing a message from my youth pastor around Judges 2:10… probably one of the most sobering scriptures in the Bible. Moses had lead the Israelites out of slavery, Joshua had lead them into the promise land and then (vs10) “after Joshua had passed away, a new generation rose up who knew neither the Lord, nor what He had done for Israel”.
I was led again to this verse in the very beginning stages of forming what is now 'Hillsong Young & Free'.
SEE ALSO: YOUNG & FREE
You see, as a church we have a history. Those who have gone before us and paved the way, heroes who have ushered in unforgettable moves of the Holy Spirit, faithful people who have served wholeheartedly week after week and genius creatives who have pushed boundaries seeing our praise and worship reach the utter most ends of the earth. By the grace of God we have seen some incredible things in days gone by. Our legacy is grand.
But, we also have a future. My Dad, our senior pastor, is renown for bursting with vision and enabling the many layers of generations within our church to carry the vision alongside him. We are constantly reminded that “the best is yet to come” and while we honour the past, we don't dwell on the “glory days” but press on to see the Glory of God permeate across the earth in greater ways throughout every generation (Psalm 145).
So then, with our history and with our future… what is it that we have in our hand right now? GREAT RESPONSIBILITY.
We have a responsibility to raise a generation who know BOTH the Lord AND what HE has done for us.
My role as a youth pastor and in leading our 'Young & Free' is to empower young people, allowing them to operate in their God-given gifts and talents so that they would see greater things for the glory of God than what has ever been seen before.
But obviously this comes with its challenges.
How do you entrust them onto a platform of extraordinary influence that they don't deserve? How do you keep them humble, grounded and grateful in the midst of accolades and success? How do you make sure the main thing is ALWAYS the main thing, that JESUS CHRIST remains the center of it all?
This is our journey… one that we navigate day-by-day and while our days are still young, here's some of what I have learnt so far.
1. POINT THEM TO JESUS.
It's as simple as that. I always say to the team that He will only take us so far as we remain close to Him and His heart. To know Him is to be like Him. 1 Peter 1 (The Message) talks about “a life energetic, and blazing in holiness”. It quotes Jesus as saying “I am Holy, therefore you be holy”. My greatest responsibility is to point them to Jesus and trust Him to shape their hearts and who they are.
2. TEACH THEM TO HONOUR.
The only reason they have this opportunity is because of a senior leadership who have graciously empowered them, and for the many mentors, pastors and leaders who make a way for them to shine. I always tell them to go with boldness and confidence, because it has been given to them. To always remember that they're only there because someone believes in them. This leads them to be thankful.
3. WARN THEM OF THE WEIGHT OF THE PLATFORM.
To lead people in praise and worship is a big responsibility. It means that their life is not their own anymore. People are looking to their example constantly both on and off the platform and so they’re signing up to live a life worthy of following and imitating. It means that they have to live above reproach because something that may be completely innocent to them can be perceived differently and therefore they must leave no room for misinterpretation. So while we can't expect them to be perfect, if they feel the weight of what they're stepping into, this determines their approach to the platform. Sadly, there are some who aren't a part of what we are seeing today simply because they weren't willing to lay down their lives for it.
4. ALLOW THEM TO MAKE MISTAKES.
Sometimes, the only way to learn is to make mistakes. I have gone through stages of policing them and having unrealistic expectations of them, which has only pushed them away from me. I am now at a stage on this journey where I have let go and allow them to learn for themselves. They're young and not perfect (and never will be) and therefore I choose to bestow on them the same grace that is given to me. My dad always says however, “to make a mistake is one thing, to keep making the same mistake is another thing”.
5. GUIDE THEM TO WHOLENESS.
My heart is that they would be whole in Jesus, that they would be cared for and loved, their hearts would be nurtured and that their identity would be found in Christ alone. This whole Y&F thing could be ripped off them at any moment, but life in Him can never be taken away. I can't let them be defined by what they do, they need to be defined by their relationship and trust in Jesus.
6. REMEMBER THAT GOD IS WITH THEM AND FOR THEM.
The reality is that what God is doing in this moment in history is extraordinary. The testimonies are endless. Through the songs they are writing, young people are finding joy and freedom, non-believers are coming into the House of God because of seeing a clip on YouTube or downloading our single from iTunes and they're accepting Jesus as Lord and Saviour. Our services have found new life and our youth has found their identity of being a generation who are YOUNG AND FREE because of JESUS. Their gifts and talents are awesome, of course but truly, what we are seeing could only be because of the divine breath of God. He is for us. He goes with us. It's His anointing. It's His timing. It's His out-working. And it's ALL for His glory.
And so… tomorrow is another day and with it comes it's challenges AND it's rewards.