Monday, June 26, 2006

Youth Ministry

A colleague of mine said of youth ministry “I’m ready to tear the whole thing down and start from scratch.” This is a sentiment that isn’t all that uncommon these days and it is one that we’ve heard for a few years now.

Now, I have no problem with re-thinking or “re-imagining” (to use the trendy word) youth ministry. In fact, I think we need to be constantly reforming which (hopefully) requires a certain amount of thinking. Here’s what I have little patience for: Acting as if those who came before us were stupid, shallow, unspiritual or wrong. Just because a model needs changing now, doesn’t mean that the model was never useful. I also have no patience for those who would stand up ala an AA meeting and confess that their ministry, in need of change, had little to no impact for X years. This is the Balaam’s Ass principle. If God can speak through Balaam’s ass, he can use me too. With that, then, I'm thinking I'll rethink youth ministry a bit.

So, I’m hoping by throwing this entry out into cyberspace, it will force me to reflect some on youth ministry in general, and mine in particular. I have noticed some changes over the years, but I'm not sure how intentional I was in making some of those changes. Anyway, as I said, I hope to get some thoughts together and throw them out there. (BTW, I’m about 70 pages into Mark Yaconelli’s book, which I think I will like a great deal. It has also been the catalyst for me to ponder changes, though some of what he talks about, or what I anticipate he talks about, I've been doing/ noticing for 9 years or so now.)

In the meantime, if any youth pastors (or former youth pastors) (yes, you LEN!) stumble onto my little blog, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the current state of youth ministry and changes that need to happen or changes you’ve seen in your ministry.

In the meantime, rock on…with a new and Everlasting Rock, of course.


Blogger norm said...

Hi Brian,
I think intentionally changing the youth ministry you lead is important. My wife and I lead a Jr. and Sr. High Youth Ministry at the same church for 12 years. There were a number of times we needed to make changes. I currently work for a sheltered workshop for people with disabilities. The average mental age of my employees is about 12-15. Even though we are not in that ministry any longer, I'm still working with jr. highers and helping them reach goals!
Back to youth ministry. At one point in our ministry we had to stop and physically hold a funeral for the youth group and start over. We found a real attitude of complacency in the students and us as well. The students were actually crying because they thought the ministry was over. The next Wednesday it was completely different and the students responded. I must say I don't think this would work everywhere nor do I think all church leadership would be receptive to it or be willing to risk it. I have their trust and knew the group the best. Youth ministry is difficult these days. I remember when MTV came along. It and all media has forced youth ministry to change, not the message, but the methods.
I think another area that needs to be discussed- youth leaders that are willing to stay longer than 18 months. Students deserve leaders that are in it for the long haul.

7:49 PM  
Blogger Rev. Johnny Agurkis said...

Balaam's Ass...classic!

Couldn't agree more. Youth Ministry, by its very nature (and all ministry in general?) should be in a bit of a constant state of intentional flux. Complacency and comfort are all too natural, and kids will simply tune it/us out after a while.

That doesn't mean we search solely to be "cutting edge" for the sake of being "cutting edge", but it does mean that we should be looking at how what we are doing and how we are doing it, is impacting kids for Christ in a relevant and meaningful way.

11:26 AM  
Blogger Brian said...

Thanks Norm and Johnny for your thoughts.

2:57 PM  

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