Jim Dekker is Associate Professor of Youth Ministry in the Center for Youth Ministry Studies and has been teaching there since 2002. Jim is a dear friend and we share a love of the outdoors and of laughter. He earned his B.Th in Pastoral Studies at Ontario Bible College (Tyndale College), his M.A. in Christian Education from Calvin Theological Seminary (Grand Rapids), and his Ph.D in Educational Studies from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He is the author of numerous articles and book reviews and he enjoys camping, fishing, kayaking and sailing.
Jim’s expertise is in a wide array of topics that inform youth ministry. In this interview on the YS Roundtable, Jim tackles an under-discussed topic that silently confronts our ministries every day. When we can identify the systems in our community, locate others who can help us work within those systems, and then develop more effective strategies for youth ministry, we can see a higher level of effectiveness in our ministry. But, hey, Jim talks about this much more eloquently, so I’ll leave it up to him:
When tragedy strikes, or when evil happens, we often ask, “Why?’ Some get mad at God for letting painful things happen, others doubt a loving God exists if there’s evil the world, and some work to find a reason behind tragedies, as if God is sending a sign or judgment.
In the midst tragedy and evil/pain, we hurt, cry, get mad, feel despair, and often feel hopeless. And these moments often seem without reason or purpose. Some ask why does God let bad things happen to good people? Yet, we all go through pain, have loved ones die unexpectedly, and deal with sudden tragedy.