Written by Ps Faith Batistella from Gateway Church Wallan
During Term 2 of ISO our Youth Ministry started a new program on a Tuesday afternoon (for some weekly entertainment) called ‘Cooking with Franco’. We sent the ingredients list to our viewers and youth several days beforehand so that they could cook along with us – but also have a laugh with the different ‘challenges’ I would set for Franco during the show. This program was hosted at my house and at the end of the show when he would leave to go home, I would walk into my kitchen and know that he had been in my kitchen. I would know by how all the cupboards doors were left open, the dishes were washed but not put away, and how the tea towels would always be thrown on the bench, rather than being folded nicely, and so on. So, after he had left, I could ‘see’ Franco in my kitchen but, of course, he wasn’t in a virtual sense. The evidence of his presence was still there, but not as an adequate substitute for him physically being there.
In life I think we can see and sense Holy Spirit in things or people but we need to remember that seeing and sensing the Holy Spirit will never substitute for Him actually being there with you. The Holy Spirit can speak to us through things and people, and those are precious moments, but those moments should always lead us back to desiring to personally be with Holy Spirit, and going deeper with Him.
In our team context, our job as Youth Pastors and Leaders is to lead people to real time Holy Spirit encounters – to God, not to us. And the question I have had to asked myself lately is, “Am I leading my youth team to Holy Spirit encounters, or to me? I’ve asked myself how am I leading them to Holy Spirit in a real way, and what spaces of invitation am I creating for Holy Spirit to come into and be the driver for all that we do?
So, here are some thoughts I have been having, along with practical strategies, that I have put in place to invite Holy Spirit to come into, and not just see the evidence of where he has been. Also, for us a team, to be more united and Holy Spirit led.
1.The Holy Spirit reveals God’s thoughts, teaches, and guides believers into all truth, including knowledge of what is to come. (John 14:26)
The Holy Spirit reveals to all believers who open their ears to hear of what is to come. Our youth leaders can hear from Holy Spirit, too, and I think it is important for us to remind them of that and empower them to hear His voice firsthand. I know that sometimes they can rely on what we Youth Pastors say, rather than hearing for themselves what Holy Spirit is saying. Again, Youth Pastors speaking into their team’s lives and sharing Holy Spirit’s direction definitely has its place, but when it is stopping them from directly going to Holy Spirit, themselves, or them becoming overly dependent on the Youth Pastor’s spirituality, then we’re missing a vital part of building disciples, let alone leaders, in our Youth Ministries.
I’ll always speak last and ask questions first. For example: I’ll ask them, what message is Holy Spirit wanting to say to our young people when we were about to start 2.0 lockdown? I’ll then let them tell me what they sense Holy Spirit is saying to them directly before I say a word. Doing this encourages them to speak with Holy Spirit directly, and I, as a Youth Pastor, knowing that I have sent them to Holy Spirit, and that what I say hasn’t substituted what the Holy Spirit might be trying to say to them, can know they are being empowered each time.
It’s important to remember that youth leaders can hold us in such high regard that what we say can be something they use as truth – but, sometimes we get it wrong. And so, as pastors we have a responsibility to teach our teams to listen to Holy Spirit first, for themselves.
2.Christians have access to power, revelation, and wisdom from Holy Spirit.
The Apostle Paul wrote to believers in Ephesus, saying,“I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in His holy people, and His incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength He exerted when He raised Christ from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 1:17-20).
Every Christian, every leader, has the same access to power, revelation and wisdom as any Pastor or Minister. Every answer to every problem can be found/heard in the presence of Holy Spirit where he speaks the mind of Christ to us. The more our leaders run to Holy Spirit first, the more time spent with Him, etc, the more we can trust and know that they are becoming more and more like Christ, and so, what they bring to us has merit and carries authority; and we can listen and consider and discern together to find Holy Spirit consensus. (We all know that there are times that we all hear wrong – for a variety of reasons – and we need to give grace in those times and offer an alternate suggestion for them to go back to Holy Spirit, but the point in leading them to Holy Spirit is for them to become a fountain of power, revelation and wisdom).
In times of crisis, sometimes you as the Pastor need to make the decision without speaking to your team first. But when those situations arise that aren’t urgent, you can go to your team, or maybe, just an individual on your team, and say: “Hey, this is what’s happening, I’d value your prayerful discernment on it, do you think you can spend some time in prayer with Holy Spirit and come back to me and let me know your discernment, so that we can go forward from this?” When you do this, and your team feels valued by you, they are also more likely to want to follow you and the vision God has entrusted to you. Imagine a Youth Ministry led by a TEAM who is in tune and unified with Holy Spirit and each other!
Holy Spirit is God’s real presence in the lives of believers – He is a person – and I think, as Youth Pastors, it is part of our role (and honour) to point our emerging leaders to Holy Spirit for counsel to add to the overall team capacity.
Having said all of this, there is definitely a time for us to impart as we’re led by Holy Spirit and to speak freely to our teams when He shares with us. However, it is our role (and honour!) to always lead people to the true source of all life – Holy Spirit – and as we do this, we empower a generation of leaders to walk in step with Holy Spirit and be dependent on Him.