Monday, March 10, 2008

Love the Disagreement!

Somehow, “Once a Youth Pastor…” has been discovered. I figured this day would come.

I was a bit reluctant to even start this blog for fear of…well…lots of things.

I feared a place where passions would run so high that point-proving and proof-texting of scripture would take precedence over real discussion of important issues. I feared that heightened emotions would keep people from hearing each other. I feared that “the way we’ve always done it” would rule the discussion. I feared that legitimate questions about youth ministry wouldn’t be heard. I feared that practices with no scriptural roots – though not evil – would continue to characterize youth ministry without even a slight examination of their effectiveness.

On the flip side, I feared attracting a group of youth ministry/church/Christian bashers who had nothing to offer to the discussion other than a list of complaints and negativity.

I knew there’d be disagreement, but I hoped (and prayed) for a tone that would be beneficial to God’s Kingdom, not mine (my kingdom tends to be wrong most of the time).

So far so good.

We’ve had disagreement. Keep it coming. But you also seem to be unwilling to simply point out youth ministry weaknesses (that’s my job!), without striving toward solutions.

Which brings me to one last point. I have come across some practices in the last two years of being an “official” youth pastor that address some of the questions I’ve raised. In other words, there are solutions. But I’m reluctant to just throw them out there. We’re addicted to quick fixes.

For example, we tend to quickly jump to “How do we start a mentoring program in our church?” when we probably should be asking, “Why don’t our teens and adults connect?” The mentoring program may or may not be part of the answer.

Quick fixes morph into programs that don’t address the root problems. It's better to wrestle with these problems (pray, search scripture, discuss, take them back to your youth team, etc.) and come to a true Spirit-directed solution that fits the context and culture of your own youth ministry, church, and community.

It's not for the faint of heart. Many of the answers will stretch you to places you never thought you'd go before. (but it's worth it!)

You heard me right. No easy answers on this blogsite.



cmcgill said...

Thank you!

I've just started browsing this blog so I can't say that I've read all of your posts.

However, from what I've seen, I appreciate you being willing to question what's going on in youth ministry.

I appreciate you being willing to raise challenging questions and not "stick to the status quo."

I look forward to reading more.

Outgoing... said...

it seems utterly unavoidable to jump from one system of doing thing to another. motivated as we are by the reality of adolescence - we know that innaction is failure. So there we sit between innaction and bad action both of which lead to insoluable failure. that is the root of dissillusionment that place of knowing that something must be done and not having the space to know what that something should be.

Charlie Harper said...

I love the way of thinking evidenced in this quote:

"For example, we tend to quickly jump to “How do we start a mentoring program in our church?” when we probably should be asking, “Why don’t our teens and adults connect?” The mentoring program may or may not be part of the answer."

You are so right that we sometimes jump steps because of the tyranny of the urgent. However behind this thinking is an understanding relationship systems that I think is huge. Way to go!

tom rundel said...

I found your site through Mark-O at YS. I came and read all the posts. I am a youth pastor, and notice the same problems that you are bringing up. Thank you for starting this conversation that needs to be held. If we really want to be effective, and build the kingdom of God in today's youth culture (instead of our own kingdom) we should have this conversation and not just knock with our knee jerk reactions to criticism. I will be reading. this blog

Dan said...

Paul does write, " Test Everything (including youth Ministry) and keep what is good." 1 Thess 5:17 (I think).

Have you read Voddie Bachom's Family Driven Faith, that talks about the unscripturalness of YM?

Just Wondering. . .

Anonymous said...

i'm a new reader. looks like great discussions are happening here.

i agree with the thoughts on this issue so far.

as an ex "church staff youth minister" of 22 years one thing that seems to be true in church life around me is that the church seems to be attempting to answer questions that youth aren't asking.

and when the church realizes that the youth aren't asking the same questions . . . it then attempts to convince youth to trade in their own personal questions for the questions that the church is programing answers for.

does that make sense to anyone. it seems to be something that i have and continue to experience.

someone else can probably state it better,