Posted by: riverchilde | April 20, 2012

Unhip and yet so very relevant

Blogger Captain Tux” articulates so well my own frustrations about how we so often fall short of our dreams in youth ministry. Consider this: “If the teens and young adults are integral parts of the church and if youth groups are supplanted by youth ministry, then something else will happen with the youth in your church. When they see someone in their school who is hurting, they will invite them to something that can help make a difference and they will do so from a place of love and compassion and mission as opposed to feeling obligated to say,’Hey, Jesus is hip and cool and we have a pizza party coming up…look at my t shirt with a clever slogan.’  They will be known on campus by their love.”

In a world where teens are as overwhelmed as adults by opportunities and obligations, what place do “youth groups” have? As my daughter said: “If I ever have any time to just hang out and socialize–not to mention go to a ‘party,’ I want to do it with my close friends, not a bunch of kids from church.” And yet this is the teen who devoted much time to serving others whenever she saw the need.

 The question, I think, is not how do we make youth ministry “fun,” but how do we make it meaningful in such a way that youth become involved not because it is enjoyable or personally satisfying or “feels good,” but because they can see their involvement is desperately important to the well-being of another and to the proper functioning of society?

My son, who fulfills his role as an acolyte as seriously as any called professional clergy, tells me that he is committed to his church because “they need me.” As blogger “CaptainTux” says, we need to integrate youth ministry “so they can be part of the larger family called the church…, invited as participants of that larger family,” and most critically,  “integral parts of the church leadership.”

“If leadership is indeed service, what better way for them to serve the church and add their perspective, voice, and hearts to the very fabric of the church as opposed to a section cordoned off from the rest of the environment. What do I mean by this? Teen and young adult representation in the elders and the deacons and in other levels of church leadership.  Not symbolic voices, but real voices that are to be heard, respected, and heeded with equality as opposed to humoring with token gestures.” Amen, amen, and again I say amen!

(And as someone who chose not to pursue youth ministry as a degree because she wasn’t “young, hip and relevant,” as the catchphrase go, I love his call to seek out for youth ministry the uncool elders who  have a little bit of hard-earned wisdom and  a passion for youth as well as “grey hair, horrific fashion choices, comb-overs, sansabelt slacks, polyester skirts, protruding guts, floppy arms, and stained teeth from too much coffee.” Now those qualifications I can meet!)

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Responses

  1. I am moved by your thoughts on my thoughts. Thank you. For any inspiration you have received, you have given it right back to me.


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