"I'm experiencing burnout. I'm tired and worn out. I am just about done with youth ministry."
"I have created program after program and nothing seems to be working."
"There are over 2,000 people in my village, and I am the only youth worker. I don't know how much longer I can do it."
"It really doesn't appear that our church cares about youth."
These are some of the statements shared with me at the beginning of the YMLT in Moldova. Honestly, it broke my heart. Here was a group of men and women investing in the next generation...yet extremely worn out, burned out, and ready to give up. These are my people. They are doing what I love to do. My heart was heavy and burdened for them.
Yet I knew one thing...
THIS was why God sent me to Moldova.
THIS was why the relationship with my new friend Vitalie was developed.
THIS was why God moved me from serving full time in the local church to serving Him globally.
FOR men like Eugen, Igor, and Pavel...
FOR women like Anna, Snejana, and Lydia.
All 16 in attendance (except one) were volunteers in their churches. So they work a full-time job and do full-time ministry on the side.
During the four day training, my teammate Jesse and I intentionally and extensively poured into these youth workers.
We led multiple sessions dealing specifically with:
- better understanding youth in their context
- how to mentor in a healthy way
- intentional discipleship
- how to manage the different barriers that exist in working with youth.
- creating SMART Goals and Action Steps
Our intention is always to equip nationals with tools and Biblical principles of mentoring/discipling they can in turn use it directly with their specific people, in their cultural context.
One of my favorite times was the significant "downtime" spent with these leaders. The relaxed atmosphere each evening allowed for some amazing conversations about ministry and enabled us a chance to do some one on one consulting and encouragement.
By the end of our time with these leaders, the joy and encouragement flowing from them was such a life changing moment. Those who were burned out or discouraged were sharing with us ways God had done a great work through the training. Here were some of their responses:
"I feel like my batteries have been recharged. I feel more prepared to lead youth better than ever before."
"This has been the best training seminar I have been a part of. I am excited to do ministry again."
"I used to focus on the programs. You have taught us that people are more important than programs. I now know what I need to do to be successful in youth ministry."
"When you return to Moldova, please tell us. I want to be able to share how the Lord moves in my ministry and also invite others to join us."