31 January 2007 ~ 4 Comments

Our modern fascination with the professionalization of youth ministry may have kept us blissfully ignorant of our growing proficiency at rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.
Mark DeVries, Family Based Youth Ministry, 2004 edition.

Competent Leadership is a component of Youth Ministry Strength according to the Exemplary Youth Ministry Study. The description of that part says that the youth leader “reflects superior theological, theoretical, and practical knowledge and skill in leadership.”

For any of us who are wondering if what we do makes any difference at all, then a part of competent leadership is to say, “We need to make significant changes, and soon.” I know that for in the thinking, reading, praying about the changes that need to be made here in Russellville, Arkansas, the first step is to acknowledge that ministry as usual cannot continue, and expect life change. The students are different, the parents are different, and certainly, I am different. The old ways will not work, and we have to confess, probably did not work as well as we had hoped. It is time to bring the family back into our ministries.

4 Responses to “”

  1. Neil 31 January 2007 at 10:06 pm Permalink

    Allen, you are dead on. We know that the ‘one eared mickey mouse’ model of seperating students out from the regular church is not working. But I can’t help but think that the program model of youth ministry is also dead… or dying off. There needs to be a cultural shift in our congregations in response to the cultural shift in our society. Thankfully, the Exemplar Youth Ministry study gives us a measuring tool other than program attendance in which to gage our progress.

  2. Ingelaurie 1 February 2007 at 2:58 am Permalink

    It is amazing how home and congregation are intertwinded. I am struggling though with educating my families on the importance of this.

  3. Tom 1 February 2007 at 7:40 pm Permalink

    In order for us to change the culture, we are are going to have to let go of the program model or at least a large part of it. We can’t do it all. We’ll burn out. Jerry and I have had this discussion regularly. It’s hard to not do “youth group” stuff, because if we stop doing it, it looks like we aren’t doing anything. The larger the church, the more pressure you will feel to do program. I’ve whittled it down to Wed. nights Sept.-Nov. and Jan.-Apr. I try to keep my expectations low for “one hour a week” stuff. And then just do summer missions and leadership. The rest of my time is working on trying to change the culture…talking to parents, publicizing the vision, communicating with staff, etc. And I’m a long ways away from major cultural change. It takes longevity, perseverance and downright trust that God is going to make the process work.
    Tom

  4. Kevin Mabry 14 February 2007 at 9:11 pm Permalink

    Allen, I am also feeling that times are changing and that we are in transition from a modern expression of church to a post-modern expression. Since January I have been involved with Luther Seminary’s discussion of “where are we going” because times are changing, and the Conversaton between Mainlines and the Emergent movement in Atlanta , Georgia. In my latter experience, the conversations were centered on how we are in a transition time and how the church was expressing Gospel and looking at how it can get to intentional, authentic, and relational ways of expressing Gospel to a post-modern culture. One might argue that one’s goal as a Christian should not be to describe the Gospel from the vantage point of a cultural matrix, but rather describe one’s cultural matrix from the vantage point of the gospel. A short bit of wisdom from Leslie Newbigin: “we must start with the basic fact that there is no such thing as a pure gospel if by that is meant something which is not emobodied in a culture…Every interpretation of the Gospel is embodied in some cultural form” (The Gospel in a Pluralistic Society, 1989). To say all this might mean that we need to ask some hard questions about being the church in today’s postmodern culture with a plurality of truths and spiritual expressions. This can be a great time of ministry because people are looking for spirituality, just not “religion” that has been expressed in a modern context. I led the “Church of What’s Happen’in Now” this last Sunday in a discussion of the seven different Jesus’s that have been expressed in the Modern Culture: 1. The Conservative Protestant Jesus 2. The Pentecostal/Charismatic Jesus 3.The Roman Catholic Jesus 4. The Eastern Orthodox Jesus 5. The Liberal Protestant Jesus 6. The Anabaptist Jesus 7. The Jesus of the Oppressed. All these different expressions of Jesus have been prevalent in Modern Culture which has confused people over the years. For Allen (Conservative Protestant) and Kevin (Liberal Protestant) to have discussion and see that both their concepts of Jesus’s gift of salvation, righteousness, and social justice have merit. We have stumbled in our churches to express that we have the only right way or the only right truth to express Jesus. In order to express Jesus and the Good News in today’s context, we need to build relationships of love and express the gift’s that Jesus brings in all seven of these christological views. We need to get off the heirarchal and bureacratic high horse of religion and get down to a narrative theology in which we become part of the story to live and pursue the kingdom of God. To be Christ’s ambassadors in our world today in youth and family ministry, we need to be honest and intentional in relationship building and expressing Christ’s love for all–even if they are different or non-believers. We need to get rid of the I’m in and your out club mentality. Expressing relationship in Christ’s love and living to build the kingdom now is a huge piece of reaching this postmodern culture. I pray that we can have conversaton and move to be Christ ambassadors today in our time of transition of being the church. (I’m done with my sermon now).
    Thanks for listening,
    Peace in Christ,
    Kevin Mabry


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