This has been a hectic, stressful, and tiring week! But it was amazing! This week was the 25 birthday of an event that is near and dear to my heart, as it is to many in the state of Louisiana. We celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Louisiana Baptist Youth Evangelism Conference. This was a record setting year for YEC. Nearly 7500 youth, pastors, and parents packed into our little coliseum in Alexandria for two days of laughs, tears, and amazing worship. This year alone there were well over 1000 decisions made. Students surrendered their lives, plans, and futures to Jesus! The first night alone, we had to wait for nearly 15 minutes as students from all around our state ran to the front to give their lives to Christ. It was a beautiful reminder of why we do what we do. Why we give until there is nearly nothing left in our tank… Why we push our bodies to the breaking point and end up sick as a dog for it… Why we sit in a freezing car or van for hours talking and crying with a student who can’t see God in the mess he is in… We do this because it is not about us or even about making the students feel like we love them. We do this because eternity hangs in the balance! For too long, we leaders of the next generation have not taken that responsibility seriously. We can plan a mean program and students love us because we condone the wrong in their life by not addressing the issues. My heart breaks for every student that falls hard and has to learn a lesson through the consequences of sin. But that is why I am here… To remind them that God is there even in the shame, guilt, and pain. This post was meant to be on the use of social media (or lack there of) in youth ministry, but we do have to be aware that we are not our students buddies…No, we are something more intimate than that…We are their mentors and leaders. We are the teacher of the Word…the very words of our Lord and Savior…from which all wisdom and power to overcome temptation and sin comes. This week many made decisions that will change their lives forever, but will we now pick up the mantle of leadership from Clayton and the counselors at YEC and lead our students even closer to Jesus? Or will we go back to our programs and games? Don’t let these students fall through the cracks. Find other strong Christian adults in your church who are willing to make one phone call a week or buy one cup of coffee and set them up with a student. Statistics say that students who have an adult mentor, other than their parents or youth minister, to do life with are exponentially more likely to stay with their faith, not just church but the intimate and personal relationship with God, than those who did not have an adult who was willing to speak into their life. We are working to get a mentor program started in our ministry. It can be difficult sometimes, but God will raise up great women and men who are willing to invest in the lives of the next generation! We don’t get into this job for the money (what’s that?) or the respect (“When are you going to become a real minister?”), we got into this wonderful ministry because we love students. Our hearts break for them… Our prayers are filled with their names… Ultimately, we got into this ministry because God’s heart breaks for them. Pray for His heart for your students… Pray for opportunities to team up with other ministers in your area… Pray for each and every school in your area that in a few days when these students return to their schools God would give them boldness to stand strong for Him. We have to be there to encourage them…and catch them when they fall, which they will, but we have to let them know they can get up stronger and run faster after failure! Thank you for loving youth! Thank you for your countless hours of preparation, prayer, and personal investment! It can get tiring, but it is so worth it! I would love to team up with you to network and share ideas. I am on Facebook and Twitter. I am also a huge advocate of praying for one another, so I would love to hear how I can be praying for you. There is also a great resource out there for ministers who just need someone to talk to, get advice from, or just pray with. If you are struggling, burned out, or just don’t know where to go from here… please contact my friend Len at his twitter @SYMSoulCare. God bless you and I look forward to hearing from you!