Contributor – Bryant Johnson, Lead Consultant with Ministry Architects

After Eighteen Years

On March 21st, 2015, I had the opportunity to officiate a wedding of two wonderful young adults. It was an opportunity that I could only say “yes” to. But it also caused me to reflect on a few things.

My first thought was, “Wow, I’m getting old!” When I met the bride and her family she was seven years old and would be in third grade. Her older sister was in the youth group that I was leading and she would be too, in just a few years.

I met the groom when he was in eighth grade, also in the youth ministry. They began dating while in youth group together, both student leaders within the ministry and members of the praise band.  I had reminded them that their relationship would either result in them becoming husband and wife or they would break up. Maybe it sounds harsh, but it’s one of those realities that dating teens easily forget.

As they asked me to conduct their wedding, I was quickly reminded of the joy that comes with youth ministry, whether its facilitating a small group, heading off to a summer camp, or leading a game of birthday bash. It was an honor to have been a part of their teenage lives and a tremendous privilege to be involved in their wedding as well.

Youth leaders – we are lucky to do what we do.

Second, I reflected on the fact that ministry can go on and on without feeling thanked for the work that you do. Days, weeks, and even years go by for some youth ministry staff and volunteers without feeling a deep sense of gratitude for their time, effort, and energy that has been poured into the church.

However, our work matters. We are engaged in the work that God has called us to, helping young people experience the love of Christ and learning to share that with others. While we may not hear it this week or this year, lives are being changed through the ministry that you and I continue to do.

So, from me to you, thanks for all that you do!

Lastly, I have been reminded that the fruit that comes ministry may not be harvested for years to come.

Grapevines tend to take a minimum of three years before they will produce grapes. With more years the grapes will become even sweeter. An olive tree can take three to twelve years to produce its first fruits and some variants even longer.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up (Galatians 6:9).”

Our faithful and good work in ministry will produce good fruit. It just takes time to till the soil, plant the seeds, water the ground, and prune each year. But through the ministry that we continue to do love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control will be ready for the harvest.

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Bryant Johnson began working in youth ministry in 1997 and is currently serving at Harrison United Methodist Church in Pineville, NC. He has been worship speaker for summer camps, taught seminars for youth workers, and written curriculum for the Florida United Methodist Camping programs.

Bryant graduated from Florida Southern College with a Bachelor of Science in Sociology. In his free time Bryant enjoys all things technology, exercise, and good movies. He and his wife, Tonya, live in Charlotte, NC.