20 years. If I’m doing the math right I’ve been in some kind of ministry role when it comes to church youth ministry for close to 20 years. 16 of those years I’ve been in a paid youth ministry position of some sort. Over the last few years I’ve often wondered what if it’s time? Time to change the way I do things as a youth pastor. One of my role models in youth ministry at almost 60 years of age still serves in some kind of volunteer youth ministry role after working in youth ministry for close to 30 years. This guy is one of the reasons I still serve in youth ministry. He’s always preached a ministry of people in regards to youth work. Relationships. Being intentional. Going to the people. Not waiting to have them come to you. At least this is what I thought I was still doing.
These last few years have made me ask some questions though about being a youth pastor. What if the people you are serving, who had hoped for the "great programs," don’t see results? What if the heart you had for kids got sucked up somewhere into the clouds of programmatic over planning and church politicking and what if in the midst of trying to find the right "program," the need to please and make people happy burns you out?
I do know deep down inside there are those who care about their kids being loved and discipled. Although, I still get this sense that there are those who still hold onto their own past of how youth ministry was done and should be done and hope that their kids will experience this same kind of youth ministry that they had once experienced either as a kid or a youth worker volunteer?
I’m currently reading by Eddie Gibbs, Ryan K. Bolger‘s Emerging Churches. The theme that keeps hitting me in the face is this idea that we do church all wrong. We spend huge amounts of time and money hoping that people will just show up. It’s not about programs anymore. It’s all about the people. I’ve even fallen into the program trap several times hoping that the people will just show up. I think one of the most discouraging things every youth worker hears over the years is "we are frustrated that the church down the street has a bigger youth group." They’re doing all the right things to meet the spiritual needs of their kids." Why aren’t we doing what they are doing?" There might be a program or two that might work, but why is it that after so many years program based ministry still keeps raising its ugly head at the youth pastor? Why is it that there are people who are still holding onto this kind of model for youth ministry?