Sunday, September 7, 2008

Is youth minstry about relatiships or meeting an 'end'?

I recently had to hand in an assignment reviewing a book that I chose called the “The Youth Builder” .

It was fascinating for me to actually review my own motivations for ‘doing’ youth work.

What am i trying to achieve?

Here is portion out of that assignment:

What influenced me during youth group days?:

Firstly I cannot remember one message my youth leader preached and have very few memories of what the programme was like.

What I do recall though was the few times that he dropped me off or visited me at home. It was in those few moments and the encouraging things he said out of my whole youth group experience that I believe influenced me the most. He was pursuing relationship.

Secondly relationship also seemed to be God’s intent. Our Christian faith is sealed in a personal relationship with Jesus and I believe God pursued incarnational ministry by stepping into ‘our world’ to identify with us through his son Jesus.

I think this has profound implications on how we should view ‘youth ministry’.
Jesus walked like we walked, experienced what we experienced all to reconcile relationship.

Burns and De Vries sum it up by saying, “If we are ever to have a positive influence on our young people, we must build relationships with them and live out our faith in their midst.”

In contrast I have seen many youth ministries put almost all their efforts into the programmes and services they run. I have also in times operated in this way by default.
I find it interesting that for many youth leaders although they would say it’s about building relationships with young people, I wonder if it’s often a means to an end.

By this I mean for example as leaders (in a previous situation) we would be asked to phone our teenage small group each week. This could be seen as ‘building relationships’, yet underneath I think the overriding purpose was to make sure they would be coming to our next event/programme.
Do we phone because we were truly concerned for them that they were not at youth group last week and genuinely wanted to find out how they were?

Or is there an underlying motive and pressure to make sure they come back next week to our programme… to our ‘end’?

1 comment:

Clive Smit said...

What a great post Matt!
Its challenging aye, when you're running programs and trying to get things done... its easy to just focus on the task and miss the people connections.

I must admit that as my team has grown and I have less and less contact with the teens... I have often felt guilty about not being homies with them.

I suppose the challenge for me is to carve out one on one contact time... even if it is just phone calls during the week.