I’m a fan of the What If? comics from Marvel, and I was excited to see they were making a TV series on Disney+. It’s a series of stories told from a different perspective, each based around one or more changed details from the original story. For instance, what if Peggy Carter got the super soldier serum that was meant for Steve Rogers, and she became Captain America instead of Steve?

It’s a great narrative tool that gets readers and viewers to, as The Watcher says, “ponder the question, ‘What if?'” I will not spoil the comics or the show for you, but I will say that some of the stories are only slightly different, while others dramatically change the outcome.

The first season just ended, and it got me thinking about other what if scenarios, specifically within student ministry. So here is a list of nine reality-altering situations I think are interesting to think about. (Why nine? Because that’s how many episodes were in season one of What If?)

  • What if student ministry wasn’t built around the events and programs?
  • What if student pastors weren’t constantly planning for the next thing?
  • What if student pastors had the time and capacity to focus mostly on shepherding, discipling, training, and equipping?
  • What if student pastors weren’t expected to do every aspect of ministry (preaching, recruiting, training, organizing, administration, counseling, music, tech, etc.)?
  • What if student pastors were not overwhelmed from all the work and had time and capacity to also participate in personal evangelism?
  • What if student pastors’ effectiveness wasn’t judged by the attendance of their ministry?
  • What if student ministry was one of the key pillars of a church’s ministry to their community, regularly influencing how the church reaches the next generation?
  • What if student ministry fully partnered with parents, treating parents as the primary spiritual influence of their kids?
  • What if the average tenure of a student pastor was more like 10 years rather than 18 months to 3 years?

I’m sure we could go on and on thinking about what if scenarios. I’m sure you have your own (feel free to list them in the comments if you want). But maybe we should do more than just think about them. Maybe we should actually try making them reality!

If any of these are not your story, and you believe they should be, what can you do to begin to change your scenario? And if you have succeeded in changing it in the past, please share your story in the comments so we can celebrate together!

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