As the clouds rolled in we saw a father bent down with finger pointing at his (roughly) 9 year old son. No one was on the field, the cones and field markers were packed and gone. He yelled and pointed, the displeasure with his so evident. The boy wasn’t as tall as the dad’s armpits, who was bent over, pointing at the boy, the anger and displeasure clear – Anger about pee wee football with a nine year old who is still 4 years from puberty.
Archive for September 2011
Before the 1960s, the goal for leaders was to have a title, a position in some organization where you could marshal others for a noble cause or for business purposes. Leaders wore their titles proudly (even the title ‘pastor’) and enjoyed the influence that they had within a community. Then the information age rolled in around in the 1980s (I think we were all distracted by the great music in the 1970s and took some time off to sing along) and the new goal was to be the ‘expert’ – the one that had the inside information that no one else had, the answers to particular social, spiritual, or economic problems. Then the open source Web world emerged in the 1990s and flattened everything. Now, all of us had access to inside information and we threw research and reason out the window in exchange for public opinion as the new determinant of value. (Perhaps I say this a bit too strongly, but you can make a convincing argument here without having to look too far)
Before the comments light up on this one, I’m not saying they’re the church of the future and thus imply that they aren’t now. In fact, the Think Orange and Sticky Faith movements (perhaps there’s a better word than movement) have challenged (again) our thinking about youth as part of the church family. And appropriately so.
What I am saying, however, is that often what happens in youth ministry will happen in the broader church ten years from now. Or sooner. Because youth ministry happens on the edges of ecclesiology (see? I think youth ministry is the church now) and its intersection with culture in our communities, youth ministry is actually an experimental expression of the future church. Singing choruses in passionate worship (60s & 70s), going on short-term mission trips (80s and 90s), doing community service projects (90s & now), and now (wait for it….) visual arts as worship (or curating worship) all developed with younger people who then wanted those as part of their future church experience.
Youth ministry’s missional quality has had a healthy effect on Christian institutions. The post-WWII efforts of Youth for Christ, Young Life, and then the response of denominations (and eventually non-denom churches in the mold of Willow Creek, which started from a youth ministry) have helped move from a ‘come and see’ mindset to one that is missional. By missional, I mean that caring adults intentionally work to live, help, and minister in the ‘world’ of teenagers.
Imagine that you’ve been given the task to render a talented servant-leader useless. You know, one of those people who lead with humility, make a difference with every thing they do, and connect well with others. A strange request, eh? Nonetheless, I’ve been thinking about this in the past month (and I’ll share why later).
I don’t think I’d parade a variety of obvious temptations in front of them. No, I’d want to be more subtle. My goal would simply be to somehow take them out of those exchanges. Just remove them from having an effect on others’ lives and hope that someone less competent and faithful will take their place, if anyone at all. Here’s the list of strategies that I made: read more…
I’ve been reflecting lately on the importance of youth ministry. I suppose the prompt for me has been my interactions with parents of students interested in a vocation in youth work. The parents wonder if it’s worth it for their son or daughter to major in youth ministry in college. And yet I see hundreds of agencies and churches seeking reliable and mature youth workers to invest in teens and families. And I hear adults speak of how important godly adults were in their lives as teenagers.
Each year prospective students traipse onto Bethel College’s campus to check it out as one of their college options, an important step on their journey toward higher education. If a student is interested in youth ministry as his or her major, I’ve learned to ask ‘mom and dad’ how they feel about their son or daughter majoring in youth ministry. The responses vary. Some parents are excited for them to pursue a ministry-related subject. Others see such majors as risky and wish they’d get a ‘real’ major to fall back on … in case things don’t work out.