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Typical youth ministry is crippled

Youth ministry is crippledFollowing a Twitter conversation last night with several youth workers, I posted this (run-on) statement on the Life In Student Ministry Facebook Page:

“A typical church enables the local body to place inappropriate expectations on youth workers that we blindly accept because they’re typical expectations and we thereby unknowingly facilitate a crippled youth ministry that experiences typical, mediocre spiritual growth that ultimately contributes to everyone feeling frustrated and pointing fingers because, while everyone feels something isn’t right, crippled is typical and the wheelchair is all we know.”

The discussion that’s transpiring in the comments of that statement on Facebook is interesting. Here’s a couple soundbyes from those comments that I’ve found to be helpful and insightful.

Tony Myles: “…Systematically this begins with the expectations put on the Lead Pastor and whether he/she is able to peel them off. If you have an insecure lead pastor who bows to the will of the people, they will expect nothing less from the church youth worker.”

Brit Windel: “…Our youth ministries are an exact ‘typical’ representation of the ‘mediocre spiritual growth’ that is shown throughout an entire church in most cases. We silo things out so we can ‘point fingers’ it allows us to not look at our own area and focus on another ‘more broken’ area.”

Tony Myles: “If you are working today off a job description for even two years ago, then you are preparing to be fired or quit. A sign of a healthy church is one that builds ministry around a person they believe is called to their church in a role (because that person has built their life around Jesus Christ) and they let that person rewrite the job description every year to match his/her heart for God and the students in accordance where where the teens are and need to go next. Otherwise you are expecting a job description to be built around a ministry – which isn’t alive. ;) How in the world can something without life interact with God? It can’t, so you are already setting it up for failure. Since the ministry can’t write its own job description, the elected board or pastor does, and often it’s written out of a hole they want to fill versus a vision that has been revealed.”

Roy Probus: “…in looking for a new position… most of the time I don’t read the job description because I already know what it says.”

Spencer Sweeting: “Because it is a cultural issue in the church, it also means that there’s no blanket fix. What’s glorious about what Tony described in regards to job descriptions is that it allows the role of the youth worker on staff to be fluid in identifying and meeting the needs of the community. For youth workers to be effective in that type of role, they’re going to have to be trained to develop unique strategies for their context. ”

A lot of other good discussion happening around this statement on Facebook, too.

QUESTION: What is your reaction to that statement?


Posted on June 30, 2011

  • That would be fun! You mean right now or at a scheduled time? I'm pretty booked today, unfortunately.

  • I wouldn't be able to do a video chat within the next couple weeks, but I do this this is a great theme for Simply Youth Ministry's conference.

  • i'd love to extend this conversation more! let's do it.

  • I'd love to record a conversation about this and post it in order to facilitate more discussion later. I'm actually working on a new service to launch this fall that will allow us to do LIVE YM Talk with video chat, so maybe this is a good opportunity to test it a bit.

    You guys wanna shoot for normal LIVE YM Talk time, this Monday at 2pm eastern? Or, if Adam's time of late Wednesday works, we can do that, too. Watcha think?

    • adamwormann

      I'm a jerk, and now Wednesday probably won't work well for me. I'd say go for Monday. Maybe I'll plan another time this week and throw something up. If you want to announce that to people to spread the word, cool. If not, no worries.

  • cbw9962

    I love this post…sorry I'm arriving to the party late, but I would love to comment. I am currently between churches because of the very topic of discussion today. I agree with several of the posts on the idea that there is a much larger issue here. I believe that we have backed ourselves into a corner or hole with how we prepare and train future ministers of all sorts. In my opinion, Seminaries enroll/enrolled men/women who are on fire for the Lord and graduate book writing and theorectically minded robots. When those folks take over the reigns as the new generation of ministers, you get a lack of the Holy Spirit and a "church society" that looks no different from the secular one. Both Children's ministries and Youth ministries need a reformation from the 70s and 80s models that obviously are missing the mark!

  • Has this already been done? I'm interested to hear what came of it…

    • No it hasn't. You interested in joining us when it happens?

  • Pingback: The Revolution in Youth Ministry | Being Ministry()

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