One of my favorite people, Jamie, and I finally had the long-awaited opportunity to grab dinner together. Both of us serve in youth ministries at our churches.  During our time together, we discussed the question of what really counts in youth ministry. Every Sunday, tens of thousands are serving millions of youth in the U.S. We teach them, we organize games for them, we feed them, and we do so much more for them.

But so often, youth leaders will leave the church that night wondering if they made a difference. Out of all they did, what really counts?

What counts that you were there. It’s your presence that matters.

I think back to my own high school youth ministry. In general, I can’t tell you what subject was preached on the most, I can’t quote the leaders on anything they said, and I can’t tell you exactly what I learned. What I do remember, however, are the youth leaders. There was Kinsley, a UGA college student and Ms. Michelle, a mom of three kids. Two women – Jackie and Leslie – were our small group leaders.  There were plenty of other youth leaders, but those are the four that I remember.

Why do I remember them even now? Because their presences had an impact in my life. They knew my story, they knew about my life. They spent time with me. They listened to me when I told about something that happened to me that week. They encouraged me when I needed it. Let’s be honest – I don’t remember the specifics of what they said or did. I don’t necessarily remember all the wisdom and Truth they poured into my life. But I do remember that they were there and that they cared.

…because they were there.

Presence matters. That is what really counts.