Teens & Faith: Hard questions about youth ministry

It's not easy to work with youth in the church, but some are gifted for it. We all need to share our experience and work together for the success of the Church.

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Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico, United States

Seeking to follow where God leads, and thankful that grace covers my multitude of errors.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Where's the (spiritual) beef?

It is easy to fall into the trap of being the "cruise director" for the church youth. They want to have fun; that's not bad or dangerous as part of the overall program. Too often, though, we find it easier to increase the entertainment than to keep it balanced with all the necessary parts of the ministry. Hey, the teens respond don't they? Numbers increase and that's good, right?

I know I have to weigh the cost of such thinking. Am I only helping to raise a generation of spiritual couch potatoes? Where is the Holy Spirit in what I'm doing?

It still comes back to why I am in ministry. I want to help the church grow by fostering Christian relationships between people and help the individual grow in their relationship to God. The seemingly "all fun" activity may have just as much of the Spirit as a Bible study, but it may not, too. Hey, just because it's a Bible study doesn't mean that the Spirit is there.

Tomorrow my youth group is meeting with a group from another congregation. I'm Methodist; we're supposed to be connectional, although we don't practice it often enough. I believe that God's Spirit will bless our game of water balloon volleyball, just as He will bless our work to collect canned food for a local food pantry ministry. Will we talk about God directly? Some, but probably not as much as we usually do on a Sunday evening. Is that bad? Nope.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

And you thought all youth directors were young and hip, right? Posted by Hello

What's the point again?

Many of us (youth workers) are determined to do our work on our own. We don't want to be seen as weak or incapable. Some of us are really good at involving others (volunteers, parents) in God's work with students. When we attempt to pull off the "lone ranger" thing we often get wrapped up in the details without remembering why we do it.

So why do you do it? Why do you work with youth, often giving up time for your family, friends, God or yourself? No, really....why?

If we can't answer this question with some certainty, we ought to question whether we are doing what God wants for us. Tim in Surrey, BC has a blog, too. He spoke well to this very question a few months ago. It's a hopeful piece. You ought to check it out. http://youthguy.blogspot.com/2005/01/sometimes-as-youth-pastor.html

For myself, I do it because I believe it's what God wants me to do. I seek to bring glory to God through it, and bring others into stronger relationship with Christ. The ministry I joined in 2003 is basically the same as it is today. I don't feel like I have left a positive, long-lasting mark on it yet. I am trying to think through some changes and build something new out of what exists.

In Tim's blog entry he basically says that it's about relationship for him. Me, too, Tim. If this work was only about goofy games, pizza, fundraising, and concerned parents I'd probably consider going back to being a volunteer somewhere. Fortunately I have recognized the powerful growth that comes from really talking and sharing with students; growth in understanding of others and in faith in Jesus.

The tough question of the day: How many students do you have to really reach/grow/help in order to consider yourself successful?

Surviving vs. thriving

Brothers and sisters, how hard is it to thrive in youth ministry versus just surviving? I have reached the "magic" 18 month mark in my current position. There are days when I think things are going well, and there are others where I'm wearing out my fingernails hanging on. Is anyone with me on this?

Today I heard that friends of mine here at the church are searching the area to see what else is out there. I am torn. My head is saying, "Hey, they have to be able to go where they will feel fed. You can't please everyone and you shouldn't try to." My heart is pretty deeply troubled anyway. I don't want to lose anyone from our congregation and our youth ministry; especially people who I call my friends. This is not a thriving day for me: My nails hurt.