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…

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Careful there big fella, you're talking my husband out of a paid sabbatical. Really looking forward to that, try not to rain on the parade.:)
On a serious note, you make valid comments Dale. I agree that youth themselves are not interested in having church "dumbed down". They want the real deal. You are right that it takes a lot of effort to work on relationships and be available to kids. Thanks for the challenge.
Bonnie

Freezer said...

Bang on Dale - In our church we refuse to have a "youth sunday" because we are devoted to involving youth in every aspect of church life. Our young people are involved in Sunday mornings as equal participants, they work side-by-side with adults in our children's ministry, and we encourage any relationship that can develop, even that between a mom of preschoolers and her babysitter. Keep on preaching the truth about effective youth ministry.

Paul Morgun said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Paul Morgun said...

good points Dale...I think there are a lot of issues that us youth pastors deal with, in making a friendly environment where kids feel loved and accepted and try to invade into their culture of entitlement, having youth become involved in everyday parts of the church helps, volunteering them to be ushers, special music, lead service...tithe...all these help them see what we do...but in a shell that is not church either...having a group of people 'community' that is trying to care for one another, moving forward in study of Jesus.. keep loving youth man...

PS-the first post was full of spelling errors...so thats why i removed it...

Paul Morgun said...

that last sentence should read: having a group of people 'community' that is trying to care for one another, moving forward in study of Jesus, is what matters so keep up the good work...

Incoming... said...

gotcha paul
i think its great to invovle kids in Youth Sundays, ushering etc. And sometimes if we take those things out of the mix of our gathered expression we miss out on an important opportunity to give kids legitimate ways of connection to the church dynamics. But does our focus on participation in the service narrow kids concepts of what church really is...
relationships.

Paul Morgun said...

yeah that is what i meant that in a nutchell what we do is not necessarily church...its our community of people that makes it church