Recently I was trading church stories with someone who also works in the church world. I was sharing my shock when a church chose to hire me as a weekly communicator in a large ministry without ever once hearing me preach.
"It's only Student Ministry."
I know the heart of this individual so I wasn't dreadfully offended. However, I believe there is a critical issue here that not a lot of church leadership wants to admit exists.
I've been "in ministry" for around seventeen years. The majority of that has been spent in Student Ministry. As the years have gone by, God has burdened my heart to serve the overall church. The importance of Student Ministry has not changed for me at all.
The issue is that for many church leaders, pastors, elders, Student Ministry is merely a support ministry. Not that they don't care about students, but when it comes down to it, they don't view Student Ministry as a vital area of ministry. There are many churches and leaders who do feel the importance of Student Ministry but for the vast majority of church leaders "it's just Student Ministry."
If students feel like an afterthought during their teens, the church will be an afterthought for them in adulthood. Don't believe me? Check your stats. It's already happening.
The Middle School students I served in the beginning of my career are now moms and dads in their late twenties and early thirties. So remember that verse in Matthew 6 about your treasure? What does your personel and ministry budget communicate about where your heart is church leader? Are you investing in the next generation? Do they feel like an obligation or a priority?
If it's "just Student Ministry" for you today it'll be "just church" for them tomorrow.