The red carpet, the camera flashes, couture dresses and sleek tuxedos, the orchestra and the big stage… The Oscars are quite a spectacle! If you’ll humor me for a second, what would it look like if we developed an awards ceremony for Youth Pastors? A youth ministry Oscar awards… err… maybe we could call them the Ebenezer awards…
What would the categories be? Maybe…
- Best Game Adaption
- Best Original Game
- Largest Regular Group Attendance
- Largest Special Event
- Best Special Event Theme
- Best Event Advertising
- Most Creative Service Project
- Best Teen Leadership Development Program
- Best Evangelist
- Funniest Youth Pastor/Small Group Leader
- Most Dramatic Speaker
As the night went on, we would approach the main event. The highest coveted honor of all Youth Pastors. As an actor aspires to receive an Oscar, we would aspire to receive this award. The Oscar of all Oscars; the Ebenezer of all Ebenezers. This would be the highest mark of recognition; a Youth Pastor could live for years on the glory of this one night. Honor would follow the chosen one for years to come.
The question is, what would it be?
What would be the mark of this ultimate Youth Pastor? How would we measure it?
Would it be based on group growth?
If so, would it be growth in number? Spiritual growth of the students in the group?
How about how many youth pastors are being raised up, or how many are heading to Christian schools?
Would it go to the most creative programming? The best events?
What if the final award had little to do with “youth ministry” as we normally see it. What if, instead, it was based on the Youth Pastor’s personal relationship with Christ. What if the ultimate award was measured in term of holistic health. What if the winner was a YP truly Real in relationship with Christ. Their peace, their security, their rest, would be set confidently in Christ – not in a need to be recognized for their charisma or the size of their group.
What if an award was given to the Youth Pastor who lived out their relationship with Christ in the most comprehensive way. What if we gave the highest honor to a YP who was living life as a branch abiding in Christ the vine, demonstrating to them that apart from Him we can do nothing.
I think that sometimes we get mixed up about youth ministry. Amid all the practical theory and the fun it’s easy to forget that the most effective and God-glorifying youth pastor isn’t necessarily that Coolest Guy Ever in another church, but rather, the one who is truly living out a relationship of reliance on Christ in front of students.
Now, wouldn’t that be an Ebenezer worth working for? An award that would command humility and true Christ-given freedom instead of the desire for recognition. That would be an empowering Ebenezer, one that would highlight a group of kids blessed to be mentored by someone who truly gets it.
I know we’ll never have a YP Awards show, but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t ask questions, and challenge what true impact means in our honorable and blessed ministry.
What about you? What Ebenezers would you want to see handed out?
What criteria would you use to determine the winner of the Ultimate Ebenezer?