This perspective shift teaches youth to become one of the hive
Written by Dave Coryell
A youth pastor in his early 30s sighed deeply as he stared into his mocha latte. He had been asking God for a plan to guide young people deeper into their relationships with Christ. He had read every book he could find on the topic, scoured the Internet for tools and insights.
He had applied various types of curriculum, events, and suggestions offered by experienced youth workers. While positive, none of them had produced the deep and lasting results he desired. Desperation was etched upon his face.
After listening to his story, here’s the advice I shared. “Maybe the solution is to think of young people less like hippos and more like honeybees.”
As one of the world’s largest land animals, the hippo is famous for its ravenous appetite. It consumes close to 50 kilograms of vegetation daily, leading to common phrases like, “I’m as hungry as a hippo!”
In many churches, discipleship efforts reflect this same consumer-based mentality. Most church discipleship efforts are passive in nature. Young people are asked to show up, consume a lesson, and be entertained by fun events and games. There may be some small time commitments to serve, but these opportunities are rare and distanced from actual church or youth group functions. Young people attend and consume. They grow bigger and bigger, until they get full enough or bored enough. Then they leave.
Honeybees, on the other hand, are active individually and as they interact with bees across their hive. Each bee carries out an important part of the hive’s mission. Tasks include everything from daily growth and survival steps to pollinating four million flowers for every kilogram of honey.
The honey they create is one of the only food substances that does not spoil. Some say honey could last for eternity. In a similar way, unlocking young people’s God-given potential allows them to own and embrace their role in the Church as they actively share the gospel message and impact lives for eternity!
Treating young people less like hippos and more like honeybees involves the intersection of the greatest commandment (Mark 12:30) and the great commission (Matthew 28:19-20).
First, help young people commit to loving God with all of their heart, soul, mind, and strength to guide their lives every day.
Then, give them the opportunity to engage their faith by offering them ministry tasks that are within their capability. These tasks include, but are not limited to, event planning, leading prayer and worship, teaching, attendance and follow up, peer mentoring, emceeing an event or ministry night, outreach efforts, and mission strategizing to help accomplish the overall church’s mission.
That youth pastor went back to his church with new energy. Within six weeks he had led the church through the transition from hippos to honeybees. The entire youth ministry was now owned and run by the young people it was designed to serve. Adults lovingly came alongside the younger generation, coaching them through success and failure.
God uses this model to impact lives in that local church and its surrounding community. Children, youth, and young adults have been unleashed through this model to distribute thousands of Bibles to those who have never heard the gospel, repair hundreds of homes, and sponsor thousands of children in poverty.
Young people are being unleashed like honeybees in over 10,000 churches in 35 countries across five continents, making this kind of impact. Help your young people be mission-minded honeybees.