For some time now, we in the youth ministry have been carrying this heavy burden in our hearts that we don’t exactly know what about. Attendance in the youth fellowships are declining, leaders and volunteers are decreasing, and each service seems to grow dull. But please do not be mistaken. We know that God is moving and we acknowledge His work in our church. But we just sense that there’s something lacking – there’s got to be something more.

I wondered, “Is it the program? The Speaker? The praise and worship team? The host? Or is it my leadership?”  The thing with God is when we ask, He answers. And His reply to me was one hard rebuke – “You’re missing none of the above. It’s my manifest presence you’ve been neglecting. You wanted to entertain the worshipers that you almost forgot to entertain my presence in your gatherings. It’s too stiff and I can’t move; too full of flesh that there’s no more room for my Spirit.”

Now that hit me hard on my face.

All this time we’ve been wearing ourselves out ‘strategizing’ on how to win people, trying to come up with activities and creative programs only to find ourselves still losing. I realized that programs don’t equal progress, nor does church activity equal spiritual growth.

The Enemy has been so smart in playing a trick on us by keeping us so full of junk that we’re not hungry for more of God. He made us so accustomed to the things that we’ve been doing to divert us from the face of the Lord.

This realization made me ask myself, “When was the last time I truly, desperately hungered and thirsted for the Lord? When was the last time I forgot about myself and the programs I’ve prepared altogether and focused on allowing God to freely move in my life and in the ministry? When was the last time I travailed in prayer just so that lost people will come darkening our church doors? When was the last time I said ‘God, I just want You. I don’t want what You can give me nor what You can do for the ministry. I just want You.”

As leaders, more than wanting our young people to be good and wanting them to keep on attending our fellowship services, we should instead create in them a hunger and thirst for more of God in their lives. We should desire for them to have not just man-encounters with us and with the other youths but more God-encounters that will make them seek God for themselves.

When we came to the end of ourselves and got tired of doing so much in the power of our fleshly realm, we stopped asking, “God, what do You want us to do?” and finally asked the right question – “God, what do You want to do for us?”

My humble prayer is that God would create in us a desire, a passion, and an unquenchable thirst for more of Him in our lives and in our church. For a fruitful ministry is not birthed out of efforts but is the natural outgrowth of our intimacy with God.

Written by: Ellaine S. Royo

Writer’s Bio: Ellaine Royo. Next to Jesus, communicating is her passion. Young mind, old soul. Randomly organized. A dreamer with eyes wide open. Walking with the Savior since 2005.