Where I live is an interesting place. It is filled with people who do things that I have never done, and may never do. There are zillions of various non-Christian ‘youth groups’ that exist for one purpose or another. There are hockey clubs (we’ll get to that in a second), and there are quilting groups (don’t get them angry, they are always armed). There are those folk who love taxidermy (stuffing animals) and there are those who are committed to keeping the animals away from the stuffers.

For just a minute I want to wrestle with the question “in a world of options, how should these various clubs try and keep their movement alive through new converts?”

Let’s take a quick look at one of the most common groups for youth in Canada—the local hockey club. If I am the leader of this club I will probably, at some stage, deal with the question “How do I get new players to join our team?” In other words, if the local hockey team wants (needs) converts, what should it do? It is an important question if you love hockey, isn’t it?

Well, imagine that the Great One (that’s Wayne Gretzky to you non-hockey-ites) were to ask those involved in youth ministry that question – “how should I attract newcomers to hockey?” What answer would he receive? He might be told, by some, “Think about trying to attract them with something other than hockey. Maybe you could have some ‘entry level’ activity that will attract the youth and you can then tell them about hockey at the end of the night.”

Now just try and think about what Gretzky would do with that answer. (“To attract youth to the hockey club, do something other than hockey.”) I really can’t imagine him saying:

“I guess I understand the logic, sort of… I mean, there are different types of youth, not all of them are sporty or into slamming into each other at full speed on blades of steel. To attract those who are not into hockey… maybe I should find out what interests them, run that activity and then slowly introduce them to what it means to play hockey – in other words, I’ll attract kids to hockey with something other than hockey!”

I’m not sure that type of logic would fly err, skate, with the Great One.

I’ve got some hockey players in one of my classes. They sit in the front row—a full row of toughness and muscle. As you would say in Australia, “Tough looking blokes these.” (Great guys though!) If I said to them “Do you love hockey?” They would look at me with their false teeth and say “heck yeah!” If I asked one of them, “Why did you join the hockey team?” He would say, “Because I grew up loving it and it is AWESOME!” Now of course, each hockey player would have his own story but the bottom line is, they were attracted to hockey, because of hockey!

And that is exactly the way it should be.

The point is simply this, if you want to attract someone to something, you don’t hide what you are trying to attract them to. Nor do you masquerade it as something else. We as Christian youth leaders must be very clear on this. Jesus is awesome, God’s message is awesome, God’s people are awesome. Being a Christian is AWESOME! This is what we hold out to this dark and dying world. Nothing more, nothing else.

 1 Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. 2 Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

2 Corinthians 4:1-6