Posted by Kurt Johnston
Normally my random thoughts are entirely unrelated. But today I share a few random thoughts and observations from my weekend at Youth Specialties’ NYWC
- It is great to se YS flourishing. With the departure of Marko and the sale to Youthworks, there was certainly reason for youth workers to wonder what the future of YS held. This past weekend made it obvious that under the leadership of Tic Long and the youth works team, that YS is in very good hands.
- I think I know, but I have NO idea! I’m specifically talking about grace. After hearing Ted Haggard and his wife in the general session, and sitting in a workshop led by Ted, I am really….maybe for the first time…beginning to see that my understanding of Grace is too limited, too small.
- Apparently, us youth workers love thinking we suck. I was shocked at how many of the workshop titles revolved around the negative, and how much of the workshop content was focused on all the stuff organized, church-based youth ministry is doing wrong, and the horrific consequences of our wrongness.
Soapbox Alert: are more kids walking away from church than ever before? That seems likely….but how do we REALLY know? Maybe we are just more concerned about it than ever before, which is really good, but did we really track this or study it back in the day? And assuming way more teenagers are walking away from faith, is youth ministry the sole culprit? What about all the other factors that contribute to the
faith journey that have as much….or more….influence than our youth ministries? Do many of our current youth ministry methods need to be evaluated? Of course. But to say that they are to blame for adolescent faith abandonment (or even that they are primary cause) doesn’t seem completely honest to me. It makes for wonderful workshop titles and sells books, that’s for sure. But if it gets us to take an honest look at what we are doing, and helps us move the ministries new directions we feel we need to….like it has with me….then that’s a good thing.
But PLEASE don’t let a book written by a seminary professor or an article penned by a youth worker in a completely different context than yours, or a workshop led by somebody who sees themselves as a prophetic voice to the youth ministry world…..please don’t let anybody tell you from a distance whether or not you are making a lasting difference in the lives of the kids God has entrusted to you.
Youth ministry isn’t perfect, and we have done lots of things wrong (chubby bunny), but I gotta believe things would be way worse had we not been trying all these years.
- Middle school/junior high ministry still lacks resources. YS is one of, if not the biggest publishers of youth ministry resources, yet in their store I had to look long and hard to find books, curriculum etc directed at this age group. I have met dozens and dozens of sharp junior high ministry minds who certainly have something to contribute….come on Publishers, go find ‘em. Or call me and I will give you their names.
-Wayne Rice is the man! To see Wayne, one of the co-founders of YS, warming up the crowd singing old school youth group choruses while playing his acoustic guitar was one of the highlites of the weekend. You probably had to be an over-forty youth worker to really appreciate it, though.