A Rant About Airports, Tools and My Greatest Youth Ministry Fear

 I’ve been stuck at an airport in New York City for over 24 hours. 

In between the bouts of frustration I’ve had a lot of time to think.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Every year I take a team of students to New York City for a short term urban missions trip.  It’s always a highlight of my year.  I love seeing the students serving and putting into practice what they’re learning.  It also doesn’t hurt that I get to spend a week every year in one of my favorite cities.

As I sit in this airport I’ve been reflecting.  I’ve been reflecting on conversations I had with students.  I have been reflecting on the churches we visited and ministries we partnered with.  As I reflect I realize I have a great fear in youth ministry.  Here it is…

Misplaced Passion

We get more excited and put more energy into the tools of youth ministry than we do with why we do youth ministry in the first place.

Tools of our trade might be

  • Websites
  • Services
  • Small Groups
  • Apps
  • Communication skills…

I think you get the picture

Now don’t get me wrong.  Tools are important.  It would be very hard to build a house without a hammer and nails.  But the point of the hammer and nails is to build a house.

We get so focused on having the best website, or being the most amazing communicator, or developing the best leaders that we forget the point.

The One Thing


If you have the coolest website and students don’t know Jesus you have failed.

  • If you are the greatest communicator and students are not growing in their relationship with Jesus you have failed.
  • If you have the coolest haircut and students love hanging out with you but are never challenged about Jesus you have failed.
  • If tons of students flock to your events but none grow in Christian maturity you have failed.

However, if you use every tool at your disposal to introduce students to Jesus and challenge them in their relationship with Him, then you are a good and faithful servant.

My Prayer

My prayer is that we will see a generation of youth leaders that get to witness countless students finding salvation in Jesus and having the amazing opportunity to disciple them into Christian maturity.

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Tyson Howells

Tyson is the associate youth ministry director for Vanguard Youth Ministry Institute. He has been a youth pastor for many years in Winnipeg as well as in Edmonton. Tyson is passionate in seeing relational youth ministry that results in youth that are passionate about following Jesus. He still leads a small group at the youth group in his home church.