Posted By Kurt Johnston
I spent the last three days with a group of 100 incredible youth workers. They were gathered together to help begin dreaming about the next Simply Youth Ministry Conference.
And while the purpose of the gathering was to talk about the conference, it was not surprising that most of the conversation and quality time together had nothing to do with conference stuff. A few random highlights and observations from the past three days:
- these days there is lots of talk in some circles about things like “A painful disruption” in youth ministry. And while I agree on most levels with my good friend, Marko….I also think much of the yet-
to-be-defined change needed is already in place in youth groups all over the place. The men and women I spent three days with are bending the rules, breaking the rules, and creating new rules!
Yes youth ministry needs some painful disruptions, and here is one idea: instead of youth workers in small to average sized churches trying to become more like the large youth ministries….perhaps the large youth ministries need to become more like the small and average sized churches. Perhaps (and this may be a painful disruption) we need to somehow “flip” where the major voices of influence come from?
- youth workers are a family. The hot new word right now is “tribe”, but I’m gonna stick with the picture of family. What I experienced the past three days was a true family laughing together, crying together, disagreeing with each other, hugging each other, praying together, holding each other accountable, and cheering each other on. There was also some pain, some hurt, some brookeness and some Un-health. But make no mistake, youth ministry is a tribe….a family.
- Junior high youth workers ALWAYS stick out! There’s just no way for those who feel a special affinity for, and calling to, young teen ministry to completely blend in.
- You belong! This particular mix of youth workers is fairly eclectic. Young and old, male and female, theologically conservative and theologically progressive, large church and small church, urban and rural, full time and volunteer, feeling fresh and feeling tired. It was a great reminder that there is room in the family for each and every one of us.
- And so you don’t get the impression that I only walked away with deep, meaningful insights…during the past three days I also managed to eat sushi for the first time, attend a home game of the Denver Broncos for the first time, catch a movie (contagion….really good), have a hilarious debate on the feminine/masculine nature of God, get drenched in a thunderstorm, and meet a ton of wonderful new friends…err tribe mates….err family members.