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Been awhile

A lot has come and gone in the last few weeks including the balloon fiesta (I didn't go to a mass ascension nor take any pictures, sad) a visit from my parents and a whole lot of work. I also bought a new car which has been a grand addition to my life as my old one was starting to make me mad every time I drove it and really wasn't worth sinking a whole lot of money into.

I wanted to go back and hit a bit of what I learned on the youth director retreat, mainly because I'm avoiding doing a report I actually have to do for tomorrow.

If you want to read any more on the subject of Contemplative Youth ministry, I highly suggest Yaconelli's book called Contemplative Youth Ministry. I'm about halfway through and am learning a lot more than he shared over the weekend, and thankfully I also will get to hear him speak at the beginning of January at the Perkins School of Youth Ministry event that I plan on going to.

So... the basic premise is that youth ministry is based out of anxiety, in fact a lot of ministry is based out of anxiety. This does not make for good ministry. Good ministry is based out of love. In anxiety based ministry you need to have these things to survive: solid products, professional experts to tell answers, activity based programs, conformity and predictability, & control.

As one might expect, youth don't really latch onto that model. Just hearing it myself being a young person, I want nothing to do with it...

So imagine this, a ministry based out of love involves presence. The act of being present with someone. Whether it is talking to a youth about homecoming, or a sport they are playing, or just what is going on in their life. It is a process. You can't expect to just get right to the answer. Youth may not get it right away, but they will understand better if you go through the process. Explain the what and the whys (an old Mountain TOP trick of the trade). It is creativity and inspiration. You can't just use cookie cutter programs and expect that youth will just get it. I might use books for a basic idea, but I revamp and rework it, pray about it, and sometimes whatever happens at youth isn't what I intended. That is creativity and divine inspiration.
Contemplation. Being intentional about everything that happens is an important piece of this ministry.

The word anxiety comes from a word that means "to choke." That doesn't exactly make me excited about ministry, and unfortunately that is what happens with a lot of ministry. Talk to any pastor or person involved in the ministry, and they can probably tell countless stories of this anxiety based ministry. I know that the college ministry that I worked at really was working hard when I left to get out of ministry based in anxiety. The first couple of years there were just miserable under the leadership's constant fear of rejection by the students. As our leadership changed, it took some time to get the fear and anxiety out of the college students who had been disappointed for so long. Last I heard, the ministry is really getting to be a healthy thing on campus, and is whether they know it or not, I think is moving toward a ministry based out of love.

Above all, this ministry based in love is rooted in the presence of God being in the center of everything. Reshaping the way that meetings happen. Reshaping the way that we spend time with and look at youth. Last week I started a new program for our youth. Don't tell the management... but it isn't a program. It is hanging out. On Thursdays, which to me are the end of my work week as I (try to) take Friday and Saturday off, I spend 2 hours hanging out at a local coffee shop with some youth. The youth are free to come and go as they please, there is no agenda, no Bible study, no plan. We just sit around and chat. That was truly the highlight of my work week last week because as I sat around in a circle with these youth, I knew that they felt like they mattered. To each other as well as to the adults that stopped by. It was a blessing to get to spend some time with these awesome young people outside of who they think they have to be at church and just relax and goof off. It really was a great way to head into the weekend.

So, if you are in ministry, I challenge you to evaluate how you look at ministry. Is it anxiety based? If so... get out. Change it. Read the book by Yaconelli and figure out how to make it different.

If your ministry is based in love, you'll know it. And we can't be perfect all of the time, and there are moments when we all resort to using canned programs and wanting to have all the right answers.

When I was in training to work for Mountain TOP, we watched a leadership video that to this day has stuck with me. Each day we have a choice to agree to do 4 things in our jobs or leadership positions to make it worthwhile. Those things are to play, make their day, choose your attitude, and be there. I see these 4 choices at the core of the ministry based out of love. If I wake up each morning and think through these things, I think I'll be on the right track.
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1 Comments:

I think the anxiety piece is so true, and it's something I have to keep reminding myself to avoid. Fortunately, I can't really do high-performace, slick youth ministry with my kids...I only have two of them. So my approach has been more presence-based, really developing relationships with them. It's great.

By Blogger Melissa, at 1:08 PM  

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