What do you see as some of the main issues youth ministry is struggling with today?
As the church faces cultural issues, youth, I think, deal with these even harder, because they’re younger, more impressionable, and still searching for their version of right and wrong. Example(s): Homosexuality, Abortion, offensive Speech, Materialism, etc. How do we convey to students what God wants, but more importantly, how do we present that God, who flies in the face of popular culture like an unwanted relative, actually is the right and better choice than pop culture?
My divine paradox: The idea of God as entertainment is purely repulsive to me. However, when we present God, we have this illusion that we must be entertaining. (That’s not to say that genuine passion can’t exist within the parameters of entertainment.) So we’re entertaining with smoke, lights, sound, huge facilities, almost a rock concert because there’s this “new” God that students seem to be wanting. They crave a deepness with something they can’t see, yet almost everything that they can see, let’s them down. Walking the line of entertainment, passion for God, and genuine relationship with the same is an incredibly difficult and almost symphonic line to orchestrate.
What do you see as some of the main issues youth ministry is responding to effectively?
I think youth ministry gives hurting students that place they can feel safe. Regardless of whether or not they find (much less seek) God, they find someone who loves them and cares for them, in a safe place. The American family is no longer the constant place of emotional safety. Mom and Dad have been defining themselves by the success of their careers, not their success as parents. Thankfully, I saw an ABC report [a couple weeks ago] that says this may be shifting from the former towards the latter.
Evan Mattei is a youth pastor in the Dallas, TX area. Visit his blog at http://youthguyevan.blogspot.com/.
Posted on December 5, 2006