Hmmm... One of the teens made a wise & insightful comment in youth group tonight.
In the second half of this year, the youth group is hoping to go on a short mission – hopefully running a two-day kid's program for a church in country NSW. I made it clear to the teens that if we did this, they'd have to actually run the ministry events themselves - the kid's talks, craft, games etc. The other leaders and I will train them & help them - but they'll have to actually do it!
The teens weren't exactly jumping out of their skin with enthusiasm... but they were all willing to give it a go. Which is pretty brave of them, actually. For most (all?) of them, this'll be their first time in up-front ministry. Which is pretty intense.
Then one of them asks "are we doing this for the church we're going to, or for ourselves?"
He was worried that we'd be going on this mission purely for our own training & experience, and maybe for the kudos of saying "we've been on a mission". He wanted us to do the mission for the sake of the church we're serving, not for our own sake.
Now that's pretty wise. It's definitely possible, under the guise of "ministry", to serve yourself. And we have to be on the alert for that. The church we visit must not be a means to an end; it must be the end. Well, the ultimate end must be that Christ's kingdom will expand through our efforts. But the particular way we hope his kingdom to expand is through the church we visit being blessed by our efforts.
So we talked about it for a while. And I asked the guy who brought it up to think about how we guard against serving ourselves rather than the church we visit.
Wise words from young minds...