Cameron Cole serves as the youth director at the Cathedral Church of the Advent in Birmingham, AL. Cameron is the chairman of Rooted: A Theology Conference for Student Ministry, which focuses on Christ-centered ministry. He attended Wake Forest University for both undergrad and graduate school and now is pursuing a masters in religion. Cameron went twenty-four years without missing a televised Alabama football game.
Make sure to check out www.rootedconference.com
Cameron Cole what is one thing (only one thing) you want to tell the youth pastor population?
Play for the long-term by telling the full truth of the Gospel. The full truth of the Gospel is that we are deeply sinful but we are completely loved and freed by God’s grace through the Cross. Telling the full truth of the Gospel is a scary thing because it wreaks of freedom. Yes, Jesus has done everything you need for salvation through the Cross and you cannot improve or tarnish it. Telling the truth involves focusing on the foundation of a student’s belief system, which does not bear immediate fruit but will make the difference on whether they are walking with Jesus when they are twenty-eight.
The fear many youth workers have in talking about grace is that while telling the truth is a part of ministry, we also need to hammer rules and provide inspiration to get the kids to follow the rules. If we tell kids that Christ’s death sets them free without also making moral threats, they’ll all go off and get pregnant in the midst of cooking meth. Sadly, the rules and pep-talks are impotent and useless for long-term discipleship and obedience. Knowing God’s grace yields fruit in the long run.
Simultaneously, while it’s a seemingly repellent thing, tell the truth about the depth of our sin, too. The Bible describes man as deceitful, wicked, evil, and an enemy of God. Accepting the reality of our nature sets kids free. Deep down, we all know we have issues. To quote one of my fifteen year old students, “Accepting my sinfulness freed me. I don’t have to live up to something that’s impossible to achieve. It makes me grateful for Jesus and less self-centered because I’m not always proving myself.”
Tell the truth. Focus on the long term. Send ’em off. Trust the Lord.