Monday, November 10, 2008

What I'm Doing Now

Today I received an anonymous comment from a blog reader. I'm completely OK with a good amount of disagreement about youth ministry. I believe that constant questioning of our practices make us better ministers. It keeps us sharp. It helps us think through why we do what we do.

But in reading this reader's comment I realized that the message and purpose of this blog might be completely ignored because of people's perceptions about me. Here's the comment:

"I just read through a lot of your posts, but I think it would've been more meaninful if you were still in ministry. It's easy to sit on the sidelines, even if it's on a court you once played, and yell at those who are still participating. Roll up your sleeves and see some of these things happen."

I guess the perception is that youth ministry became "too hard" and has "too many flaws" so I just quit. Or that I'm no longer involved or interested in fixing the problems. That I'm just content to complain or criticize about what's broken.

I hope this isn't the common reaction.

My concern isn't about my credibility as much as readers rejecting the issues raised in this blog because of perceptions about the writer. Maybe a bit of context will help.

I've never shared my reason for leaving youth ministry other than "God simply led me to something different." Maybe knowing what that "something" is will help clarify my departure from youth pastordom. It's a long story, but I'll make it short.

Our family (not just me) has felt a clear call to those Jesus called "the least of these" - the outcasts, forgotten, oppressed, poor, unlovable - and especially widows and orphans. This call led us all the way to Ethiopia where whe adopted two little orphan girls. My wife increased her hours at the hospital to support our family so I can rehab houses for seniors (especially widows) living in one of the poorest areas of Toledo. This winter we hope to insulate several attics free of charge. This is what we've been doing for the last year.

As per the "getting involved" comment... Unless youth ministry is narrowly defined as "youth pastor" I don't feel like I'm "sitting on the sidelines". I just feel like I'm playing on a different court. Or maybe I'm just playing a different position than before. I've found a way to maintain my involvement with students at the local high school. I invite young people into directly serving the seniors I've met over the past year (hopefully even moreso in the future). And just today I trained and equipped a group of parents to become the primary spiritual investors in their kids lives.