It's (They're) Worth It!

Where are you investing your time, resources, and energy for the future? Join us today as our own Dave Glander, RforH speaker, and founder of EQUIP camps, gives us a small glimpse into an investment that brings eternal dividends.
Sadly, I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard things like this whispered in secret …
  • “Youth don’t tithe.”
  • “Youth can’t elevate a position (so why bother with them?).”
  • “You can’t sustain doing youth ministry for long….”
  • “Becoming a youth pastor is just a stepping stone to becoming a real pastor.” Etc. Etc.
By looking over 3,990 youth pastor resumes, Zippia.com calculated that 36% of youth pastors stay in their position for only 1–2 years, and 10% don’t even make it one year! (Click HERE for a  more comprehensive look at these statistics and others like them.)  That means nearly half (46%) of the youth pastors in America are gone within two years!  When studying this tragic truth, churchsalary.com concluded,
That means 50 percent of the students at the churches represented by our survey have experienced the trauma of losing their youth pastor and getting a new one between the start and finish of high school. Many will have three youth pastors between starting junior high and leaving home for college.
Stop and ponder the implications of that.

This generation faces real trust issues, and they can spot a fraud from a mile away.

During some of the most vital growing years of a person’s life, they must deal with losing their trusted shepherds.  This generation faces real trust issues, and they can spot a fraud from a mile away.  Having to learn to trust multiple youth pastors over a period of 7 academic years has led to many trusting no one in that position.  It’s no wonder why this generation is struggling, and amid so many other obstacles they’re already facing!
If you’re reading this right now, and you are involved in youth ministry at all―whether pastor, volunteer, or parent of a youth―I want you to hear me loud and clear… IT’S WORTH IT!  THEY are worth it!
I wish I could turn this particular blog into a book, and hey, maybe I will one day, but for now, I want to share a couple of stories with you that will keep you fired up for serving in student ministry.

 I was growing weary of sending my son off to camp, hoping for a life-changing experience for him, yet it always seemed like three days after returning from camp, he was just back to the same old thing as before.

First, let me lay some groundwork for you to understand where I am coming from.  Exactly ten years ago, God laid it on my heart to start a new kind of camp for students.  I was growing weary of sending my son off to camp, hoping for a life-changing experience for him, yet it always seemed like three days after returning from camp, he was just back to the same old thing as before. Because I wanted to offer youth ministries and parents an alternative to this dilemma, God called me to start EQUIP Retreats.  We call it "the camp that doesn’t end when camp is over"!  To illustrate this idea, our incredible graphics team designed this handout for an upcoming Youth Pastor’s Conference we are setting up for … I love it!  “This One Sticks!”
EQUIP is a game-changing, life-altering experience for students.  It was important to me that the youth got the whole camp experience―zip lines, rock walls, giant swings, mud pits, horseback, archery, gaga ball, and so on.  I mean, these kids have the time of their lives.  However, there’s a twist, a very intentional twist!  The Lord led me to navigate through the question of while we already have them at camp, how can we actually equip (hence the name) them to Live, Share, and Defend their faith?  To accomplish this objective, we designed multiple apologetics sessions taught by renowned apologists around the country.
  • We challenge young people not just to believe the Word of God but to know WHY it is believable and trustworthy. 
  • We disciple them in all areas of conflicting worldviews that fly contrary to our biblical positions. 
  • They leave EQUIP with a toolbox full of resources to help them stay bold. 
  • We also have several follow-up strategies like EQUIP rallies and Mic’d Up teams, but enough about that. 
Yes, that was a free commercial for Equip, which by the way, you can register HERE
So, why did I go into all of that?  I’m Glad You Asked (another shameless plug for a TV show I host. Season 1 can be found HERE.  I said all of that to say that I have walked the walk of the talk that I’m talking to you about right now.  I have been in youth ministry for nearly two decades.  While I don’t pigeonhole myself as only a youth pastor, I will NEVER leave youth ministry as a significant emphasis in whatever I do … I can’t; my heart bleeds for them!
I’ve seen the loss that comes with sowing into a student’s life only for them to grow up and claim to be atheists or transgender, for example.  While it’s hard not to feel down when you see those outcomes, which I still believe God can turn around (Proverbs 22:6), I have also seen some of the most incredible life changes that occur when adults choose to stay for the long-haul in youth ministry.  Here are a couple of real-life accounts to further make my point (and again, I could write a book on these types of stories!).
One year, at EQUIP, a young girl came in who had participated in some youth ministry her whole life.  She probably wasn’t aware that she was headed toward becoming another statistic of those youths who walk away from the faith by age 23.  She wasn’t even sure why she came to camp, but she did!  (As I said earlier, I am focused on the “while I’ve got you here” aspect of camp.)  While she came as a spectator to enjoy the amenities of a Christian camp, she found that she could, of her own volition, dig deeper into a faith handed down by her family.  

Our speakers challenged her to wrestle with why she believed what she claimed to believe.  She even had a smug little boyfriend who thought he would challenge our speakers (something that is openly welcomed, by the way) but found that his agnostic thinking couldn’t be sustained when challenged by accredited Christian apologists. In the nicest way possible, by the end of camp, he looked like a silly little boy instead of the arrogant guy he came to camp as. Our speakers loved on him and took the time to give him solid, well-thought-out answers to every objection he hurled at them. Enough of him―she broke up with him later anyways! 
Back to the girl … her name is Gabrielle, and she is now a part of our ministry here at Reasons for Hope.  She is the face of our Mic’d Up street evangelism team and one of the co-hosts of our TV show!   Loving her and taking the time to disciple her has led her into a life of serving Christ, and I have had the honor of watching the Lord do His thing the whole time.  SHE IS WORTH IT!
A.D.D. MOMENT! And since this is my blog … yeah … I know I said two examples, but I have to share this extra one in the middle.

When she heard me speak about my trauma, it was the first time she realized she wasn’t the only one dealing with this pain.

I was leading a chapel at a large Christian School where I shared part of my testimony about being sexually molested as a child and how the Lord was now using this to help heal others.  In the process of allowing God to use for His glory now a part of my past that was very painful, I got a friend request from a young girl who later sent me a PM saying that her dad had been sexually abusing her, and she felt all alone.  When she heard me speak about my trauma, it was the first time she realized she wasn’t the only one dealing with this pain.  In the end, I was able to help her get the proper adult authority to step in and assist her.  Her dad is still in jail to this day, and she is now a happy, “B.E.A.utiful,” young woman who is married and living a life of joy.  SHE WAS DEFINITELY WORTH IT!
Ok, now back to our regularly scheduled program.

So I bowed my spirit to God and said, “I may not understand, but please do Your thing….”  

For one EQUIP session, somehow, the camp calendar got messed up, and our typical first week of June had to be postponed until later in June.  This debacle caused a lot of stress because I was responsible for 100 people regardless of who actually came, and the date shift was causing some who originally planned to be there to cancel because of new scheduling conflicts. So I bowed my spirit to God and said, “I may not understand, but please do Your thing….”  Well, let me tell you what happened!  On about night 4 of camp, a young lady came up to me and put a note in my hand.  She told me not to read it now but later that evening or whenever I got around to it.  Honestly, and with all of the duties I have to manage at camp, I forgot it was in my pocket until LATE that night when I was trying to decompress from the day. So I pulled the note out of my pocket, and here is what it said:
Dave,
I know that you know that you’ve impacted many people’s lives, but I wanted to let you know how you’ve impacted mine.  A few weeks before Thanksgiving last year, I found out that I was pregnant.  I decided to handle this in my own way instead of turning to God, so I got an abortion.  I felt so horrible after that I tried to commit suicide, but my mom found me and took me to the hospital.  I have been struggling with depression ever since, and I’ve talked to my therapist about it, but that hasn’t seemed to help.  All of that aside, the real blessing and main thing I wanted to share with you is that it is God’s handiwork that I’m here this week.  
 
June 23rd was my due date, and I didn’t realize that when I signed up to come here.  I have felt so much joy this week, a joy that I haven’t felt in a long time, and I really needed that at this time.  If I wasn’t at this camp, I would probably have tried to kill myself tomorrow just because it’s so hard knowing that I killed a child that God made for me.  I just wanted to let you know that me being at your camp and me listening to God this week has turned my life around.  I still have a lot to work on, but this is a new beginning for me.
I don’t know if you caught what just happened right there, but God literally changed the dates of EQUIP that year to make sure that she was there ON THE DAY that she was supposed to have delivered her baby, and in turn, the day she was GOING to kill herself … BUT GOD!!!  That’s how much He loves us. So, while it may have caused me a little stress, He changed dates just for her!  May I now tell you the “rest of the story”?  Ok, I will.
You'll see things like this when you’re willing to persevere and serve for the long haul in youth ministry.
That’s right.  Jehovah Rapha not only healed this young lady, but on that day, He revealed to the rest of us the calling on her life.  She graduated from the nursing program to work in the … wait for it …  LABOR AND DELIVERY unit!  Come on, Jesus … now You’re just showing off.  But you know what … SHE IS WORTH IT!

I have ... seen some of the most incredible life changes from choosing to stay for the long-haul in youth ministry.

Hang in there. Hold up your head.  Parents, are you suffering from your struggle with a problem child?  Pastor, did you lose one recently, or do you feel like what you’re doing doesn’t amount to much?  Hang in there and realize that God is using you whether you know it or not.  I wonder how many others I will see on the glorious day who will be there with me because God told me to stay with them and serve them because they’re worth it!

Proverbs 22:6
Train up a child in the way he should go;
even when he is old he will
not depart from it.

To learn more about Dave Glander, and to book him as a speaker, click HERE.

WE HAVE AN APP FOR THAT!

One of the spiritual tools EQUIP campers are encouraged to access is the Reasons for Hope free app, full of hundreds of digital resources to support them in their faith as they grow in their boldness to stand on the Word of God. We invite you to download this free mobile app as well. Just go to your favorite app store, type rforh, and look for the blue asterisk, or click HERE.

Our Newest Resources!

Questions you’ve never asked that we have the answers for!

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Then, use your new knowledge to become a “tour guide”
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We are excited to share many of our Creator’s Fascinating Facts with you and to train and equip you with knowledge—knowledge that will enable you to have a ministry in a zoo setting, sharing God’s amazing design with those who may never have heard anything but an evolutionary perspective. This resource comes with FREE access to a lesson guide with quizzes and an oral presentation rubric for those who choose to use it as an academic unit study. So click HERE to order for yourself, your children, and your grandchildren! 
IMPACT curriculum trains and equips young adult believers to stand boldly on the Word of God. It helps them know why they believe what they believe so that, in turn, they can live and share their faith with confidence.

Unit 1: Foundations begins with the basic principles of apologetics, biblical worldview, and critical thinking. This groundwork prepares students to unpack the rich content of the attention-grabbing DeBunked videos while they build relationships with others, actively apply the lesson content, and find true purpose in planting seeds of faith in a world that needs the hope of Christ. Click HERE to see other related products or to order this valuable resource.
We also encourage you to purchase our newest ministry book, Did Jesus Commit Suicide? And 27 Other Questions That Teens Have About the Bible (that adults want to know, too) to help you answer questions from a biblical worldview that teens are asking today. Click HERE.

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