Posts Tagged ‘Off Brand’

What is Youth Ministry?

Posted: September 28, 2019 by Ty in Spirituality
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It has been a long discourse, bumpy roads, and yes, to grow a ministry that actually disciples an individual into a deeper communion with the Holy, and an firmer understanding is what they believe and why they believe it, and by extension create belonging. Some may be shocked that I say individual and not “youth”. This is because part of the discipleship, is the growing faith for those who provided pastoral care and spiritual direction to the group. These individuals may be paid or unpaid, but should not come with canned responses, should interact the community the youth exist in and how the faith responds and grows within.

Why this topic? Almost becoming a rant? Simple, as my family begins to dream one googles for what is out there for the calls on their heart and then you roll across posts ala this one out of St. George’s in Calgary (read post), a small parish wrestling with how to interact and shepherd youth. I get it. Creating ways to engage youth with the life of the congregation and through an understandable standard ala Scouts makes sense. It is a good path possibly if it works for those who are attached to the congregation. Yet it is in defending that paid youth ministry does not need to happen and stating things like “entertainment” or “babysitting” is saddening and angering. This is why youth have walked out on the church. They want depth, they want to be able to ask questions, investment in who they are.

It is a dodge used by churches who do not feel a youth pastor with worthy of pay. I have heard it many times, or they produce such a low pittance that the investment of time by the pastor breaks down to less than 2 bucks an hour, so when you re-frame it as an honourarium then the congregations balk saying “no we pay you!”… when what is needed is investment in the person and their family who are called, whether it is financial, honouring gifts, and belonging themselves. I am not zeroing in on this congregation specifically, as I had a good time with them as their youth pastor and we had impact on our community, and growth in the faith of youth, but it is a good time to reflect on this concept and what discipleship means?

This is not just an Anglican issue with youth ministry. Across the Christianities I have seen this concept. Only put out dogma, no questions allowed. What can we do this week to compete with (fill in the latest craze or social media blank)…totally missing the point that it is about allowing the youth to question. It is not simply a mind/brain issue, but an emotional/spiritual question, a connecting of the two so a person begins to belong in who they are and how they are created (the Imageo Dei), and then how they fit into the Body of Christ, and the Missio Dei (Mission of God) regardless of age—what are they called to do? What gifts do they have? How are they meant to use them to make the parish better– and the parish is not just the four walls where the group meets or church happens, rather the parish is the broader community they exist in, and the circles of influence they are a part of.

It is investment in time, dsipling on the role of faith, exploring the doctrinal documents of the faith, spiritual practices, and the things they want to know how their faith interacts with. It is truly creating a courageous safe space to be where no question is out of bounds for exploration. Where you crack open the liturgy and the Holy Scriptures for discussion, and debate.

Why does this matter for me?

I am aware of 3 congregations within blocks of each other, at the heart of the Properties Communities’ of North East Calgary. Within the circle of the Village Square Leisure Centre either exploring, on life support or growing youth ministries. Yet, in a community that is seeing a rise in rough campers, pan handlers, economic mental health effects, highly multi-cultural, religiously diverse, socio-economically diverse, sexual identity diverse, the drug and sex traffickers (predators) using the parking lots of these sacred spaces…

And brands (denominationalism) in my heart is stopping them from actually answering the call to respond to the needs of their parish. The Missio Dei literally at the heart of the parish, within their congregations, and at the door step (parking lot stall).  One has to wonder, if ego can be placed aside, and the almost 12 congregations meeting within these 5 buildings can get together and realize that an in-reach and out-reach to the youth of the community, creating that courageous safe space, can actually transform things for the better. Be the light house into the darkness, confusing it, challenging it, and dispersing it– not through fear, but through HOPE.

This is the prayer for my neighbourhood, but all too often when raised to the clerics and boards the answer is fear of the other church, that closes the door.