Today I met with the Board to learn why my papers failed. I won’t go into details, but it’s basically what I thought. I wasn’t clear on some issues, I wasn’t consistent and so forth. All good pointers. And I took all of them to heart and am ready for the next time.

However, something came up in the conversation that came up during my district interviews, my provisional interviews, and I guarantee you, it will come up if I get interviewed next year. And I told the members who were there that I will fight them tooth and nail on this issue.
What’s the issue?
That my experience in only youth ministry may prevent me from understanding all that may come being an elder in the UMC.
Excuse me? Really?
For this reason, I believe this furthers my belief that the pastors and leaders of UMC are mistaken about youth ministry.
And for all the talk about how we need to reach younger people and so forth… what better way to do that through the youth ministry at your local churches?

I think the issue here is that many of the people in charge in our denomination still buy in to the “Entertainment Model” youth ministry. Like I’ve heard before and preaching ever since “when you entertain kids to the kingdom, you have to entertain them to keep them there.” And with the pace of entertainment and the shortening of attention span, it’s getting more and more difficult to keep our kids entertained. Entertainment has preceded the need for discipleship.

Or people may still view the style of youth ministry that I called the “rotating” youth ministry from the 80’s. One week it’s game. The next week it’s community service project. The next week is an outing. The following week is a worship/study. And repeat.

I’ve been around youth ministry for about 10 years, 7 years as a paid person to do so.
And here’s the deal:
The needs of youth are the same as the needs of everyone else in your congregation. Everyone wants to be needed. Everyone wants to fit in. Everyone wants to be relevant. Everyone wants to be loved. Everyone wants to heard. It’s a bit magnified in the youth culture. But then, it’s magnified in the elderly also. So, if I were to serve only elderly people, would the powers to be question my lack of experience in other areas of ministry? I don’t really think so.

I believe that you grow the youth ministry the same way you would grow a church: with vision and with mission.
As Rick Warren said, a great commitment to the Great Commandment and Great Commission will make a great church. I believe every word of that applies to the youth ministry.
The Great Commandment and Commission covers the basics of every ministry:
Worship: Love the Lord
Ministry: Love your neighbor
Evangelism: Go and make disciples
Fellowship: Baptizing them
Discipleship: Teach them to obey (from Purpose Driven Youth Ministry).

And small groups play just as a crucial role in spiritual growth with youth ministry as well.

The fact that I have heard “we are concerned that your time is only spent in youth ministry” leads me to conclude that those people do not think highly of youth ministry or that youth ministry is not a “real” ministry.
I think it’s awesome that I, as one on the elder track, will serve the youth, and together serve our community.
And I believe that those comments are undermining and underestimating our youth, which local churches do very often. They often think the youth can’t handle the Gospel or a bible study, so instead, let’s just play games so they’ll keep coming.
Which isn’t that surprising, considering many local UMC’s lower the bar of discipleship for the sake of membership.
Let it be known: God uses young people to change the world. Do I have to go through the list of Biblical characters? Let’s just say Mary. I mean, all she did was bear God into this world…

I’ve had this thought ingrained into my heart recently.
We have coaches for churches here in the Cal-Pac. But those coaches focus on the overall growth of the church.
I think that having a youth consultant will be helpful for the Church. I’ve seen big, healthy and growing adult churches without strong youth ministries. But I haven’t seen a church not grow when their youth ministry is strong and healthy.
I know that I don’t have all the answers, but I do know I have accumulated enough knowledge and experience to help a church, at least, steer the boat in the right direction when it comes to the youth ministry.
I’m moving to a new district soon, and I really want to explore this option of being a youth consultant for the churches within the district, while doing ministry at my new appointment. Who knows, maybe we’ll get enough people for each district to ReThink youth ministry. We desperately need to.

Far too many churches have put entertainment over discipleship.
Far too many churches have underestimated and undermined the youth and what they can accomplish when God lights a fire in their heart.
You want a revival within the Cal-Pac? Why not start with the youth? They’ll rock this world in the name of God, given a chance. Forget this “leaders of tomorrow” crap. Tomorrow may never come. They’re ready and willing. But instead of equipping and empowering them, we’re thinking all they can handle is a game of manhunt.

And we wonder why they never come back to church when they leave for college…

14 Comment on ““Don’t Underestimate Me” – The Youth of UMC’s

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