It wasn’t that long ago when I wrote the first portion to the “purpose of family and youth ministry.” What I have been most surprised about is the number of views that it has had. Many views have come from the Perrow church family, but there have been many more that have come across it via the web.
I wonder why so many people are interested about family and youth ministry? There seems to be a lot of questions regarding why, but I wonder why there are so many who are unhappy and dissatisfied with traditional youth ministry?
Personally, I have only been involved in youth ministry for over a year. When I was a child and teen I never attended a youth group and when in college or graduate school I never assisted at one either. So when I came on board here at Perrow Church I believe that I had really fresh eyes.
I remember telling the Pastor Keith Cobb and the church session (those that are given the responsibility of governing the church) that I was not only humbled about having such an opportunity as this to serve, but how humbled I am when I look ahead and realize that I do not have the practical experience to carry out the task ahead of me.
With that being said I have taken much comfort in God’s word that declares, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12.9). Since His grace is sufficient for my task and His power is perfected in my weaknesses, I have been all the more gladly to boast in my own personal weaknesses and inexperience (2 Corinthians 12.10). Not only that, but having such a strong support group has been most beneficial.
Moving on. When wrapping up my last blog on the purpose of family and youth ministry, I left with the question, “What happens to traditional youth ministry in light of a shift of responsibility from a youth pastor to the parents and caregivers?”
For me this is a great question and one that I cannot answer thoroughly myself, but here we go.
If our children are our responsibility to raise in the instruction and discipline of the Lord and not some “trained professional” (i.e. youth pastor, worker, mentor, etc…), then why should we continue having a youth ministry? What’s the point?
I have been pondering this question for some time now and still have not come to a resolute conclusion; however, I have formed some fairly strong convictions. Since we as parents and/or caregivers are to serve in the primary role and responsibility of our youth, and that our duties are not to be delegated to someone else (like myself) in instilling faith and disciplining our children, then the church should serve in a secondary role.
By serving in a secondary role with parents, a youth worker as myself should strive to come alongside of parents and caregivers in both encouraging and equipping them in fostering their children’s commitment to Christ, His body, and to serving Him (see Ephesians 4.12 to see a brief explanation of pastoral roles). What I envision and am working towards seeing accomplished is my personal involvement in the life of the families that we serve. To connect with parents, caregivers, and their children outside of the four walls of the church for the purpose of establishing a relationship of trust and respect amongst one another. To work alongside of them and discover their desires for their youth, what they are doing to see them become a reality, and how I can serve them in seeing their dreams become a reality.
As a side note, it is still my conviction that the elders of the church are to serve as the overseers of the truth of the Gospel in the local assembly of the church. Therefore, as one who worships at one of the local expressions of Jesus Christ body, Perrow Church, I am to be held accountable of my conduct and testimony by the elders.
With this being the case, I would love to see families integrated together in Sunday School Classes (i.e. Focus Groups or Small Groups). Now, I am not calling for the complete extinction of age segregated ministry, for we, as the church, need to provide courses that equip parents and caregivers in their parental role and responsibilities. To include children in such courses would “probably” be unproductive if not counterproductive.
Moreover, I see youth ministry functioning as a means for parents and caregivers to work with their children in reaching out to children and youth that are not committed to Jesus Christ. Why would I want to see this?
One of the reasons that under-gird my desire is that as parents our children learn quite a lot from merely observing and shadowing our words and actions. To see us at work in the ministry would help in instilling in our children that same value. Another reason is to provide parents and caregivers the opportunity to come alongside of their children in both encouraging and equipping them in reaching out to others and seeing their friends and acquaintances commited to Christ.
For example, I have had one of my sons with me on one Wednesday night (when we do our big youth gathering) to help by taking pictures, which he loves to do. By him coming out and joining me he had the opportunity to serve our Lord by exercising one of the compassion of his heart. Moreover, he was given the opportunity to see myself minister which hopefully will serve as a good example to him.
One final note before I end for the day, I believe that a church should strive to be as simplistic as possible in their programming. What I mean is that someone like myself should not provide and promote endless activity and programs for someone else’s child. If so, how could a parent ever build a strong relationship with their child and be successful in instilling a heritage of faith in their lives if they are gone every night of the week at some church function? This is why I shy away from providing numerous programs and conducting multiple trips.
I unloaded a lot in this post and I imagine that at some point in time in the foreseeable near future I will come back and hammer home on some of the finer points.
Grace and peace