Friday, March 24, 2006
YOUTH MINISTRY IS EVERYBODY'S JOB...
Here’s a quote and comment:
“Youth ministry, then, is not an appendage of the body, it is rather an expression of the whole body caring for specific group. Adolescents need adult community who will love them appropriately and with great care. This is the call of the church. Young adolescents need several second families, and middle adolescents need a safe place to explore peer relationships while knowing that there are many others in the wings committed and available to them. Older adolescents need to know that they matter to the other adults in the community. Youth ministry is everybody’s job.” – Chap Clark
Of course many of you know how passionate I remain in my desire to help adolescents through this turbulent time of their lives. And more than ever it seems that the expectations of this passion are left unmet. It is depressing really…
For as much as we have worked to establish an effective strategy in our youth ministry here – it often feels a little useless. I have to accept that likely I am to blame at least in part for the state of things. Ministry to youth has seemed to be so ‘diametrically opposed’ to the over all function of the rest of the church. So our youth ministry has squirreled away a spot to ‘do ministry’ beside and outside the rest of the church's function. I suspect this issue exists in many if not most churches. Basically it is like we have created two distinct independant spiritual bodies. And I know in some situations churches’ have carved youth out of the main meeting time. (a.k.a. YOUTH CHURCH) Auspiciously to give youth a version of church that is more in their context. Fine. But I suspect that we should not wring our hands in despair when most kids walk away from their faith after high school. Our system of fragmented ministry has ducked around the real issue. A sort of laziness and arrogance.
As a father I am increasingly aware of what I will leave for my children. So it disappoints me when people who have received spiritual nurture for years and years continue to greedily hoard the spiritual wealth. But far from asking every person in the church to become sponsors or volunteer staff, I just think we need to look past our collective noses and wake up to our responsibility to those who are growing up in this “Brand New World”.
The essence of the church is sacrifice. So to be clear I DO NOT think we need to Dumb Down the church to make it more youth friendly. I think that when adults accommodate youth they understand that it’s not just about meeting their perceived needs. It is good for youth to learn early the rhythms of sacrificial living. However, adults need to STOP the greedy spiritual engorgement that is so pervasive.
You know what I think?
The reason we create these ginormous events (YC / CREATION / Even to some extent Bible School “Retreats”) is because it is a relatively easy way to FEEL like we are ministering to kids. Gosh it is way more labour intensive to actually start a relationship with a kid. Nope instead we will gladly throw money and resources of all sorts at these events – which incidentally are not so subtle ways of teaching kids to perpetuate the greed cycle. Really when it comes down to it having a paid youth pastor is probably another great way of doing the same thing…