This is a challenging quote – what do you think?
“As evangelicals we have tended to see the church and its public ministry of Word, sacrament, and oversight of spiritual and material needs of the body as “maintenance” for those who were evangelized once upon a time. They’re already in. But evangelism and mission have to do with going outside the church and its ministry to say and do something else. The cleavage between church and mission is often stated explicitly in evangelistic appeals: “I’m calling you to believe in Jesus, not to join a church.” But what does it mean to make disciples—what does that really look like on the ground? Furthermore, how do we deal with the challenges of religious pluralism and the rising sentiment in evangelical circles that salvation does not require explicit faith in Christ?” Michael Horton
“The best ever…..” titles can sell music albums, provoke debate and allow for wide differences of opinion. Some things are near impossible to determine – which team was better, the Liverpool team of the late 70s or the Manchester United team of the late 90s? It is all subjective and there are so many variables that comparison is nigh on impossible.
When Mike Pilavachi says that “the quality of youth workers has gone down dramatically”, you would be wise to listen and reflect but let’s take a moment…what are the markers? What are the reference points? Mike follows by saying that many of the best youth leaders are moving on to ordination and so there is a wider context to this statement that we must consider; the ‘quality pool’ maybe more shallow because of other extenuating circumstances.
Martin Saunders, another highly credible voice, responded to Mike’s original interview with an article that sought to support and clarify what Mike was saying. This article was more troubling for me. As someone who was a salaried youth leaders from circa 25 years ago, and currently a volunteer leader, it is important that we do not compare the incomparable and we must not look back with rose tinted spectacles of the reality of those years. Some things back then were exceptional, some things not – it is no different today – some things are exceptional, some are not. The references to ‘average youth leader’ in the differing generations are unhelpful, inaccurate (even allowing for artistic licence) and prevents proper engagement with the meat of the discussion
In every generation, the same struggles exist for us all – living as Children of Light. The context of todays culture is different but the struggles are the same. If the issues of holiness, bible reading, devotional life etc. are the issues at stake (and I agree that we may need to look at this more consistently) then this is not something that should be placed upon youth leaders alone but every ministry of the Church. Discipleship is a whole Church responsibility.
In the bigger picture of life, this storm will pass. However, I hope that the heart of both Mike and Martin continue to inspire us all – they are such important figures in championing youth ministry and I value them both. I also hope that others involved in youth ministry do not feel undervalued or discouraged as they serve – you are loved, valued and are appreciated.
Thank you to everyone who engages in youth ministry – you are AMAZING!
There are so many discussions/arguments amongst folk at present on ‘gospel ministry’, ‘mercy ministry’, ‘good works’ etc. etc. etc. To call it a battle ground would be to give these discussions too much credit but they are having an impact on the work of the Church and its people, particularly in respect to its evangelistic endeavours. Much of the debate seems to centre on De Young and Gilberts book, What is the Mission of the Church? which has drawn a position that ‘mercy ministry’ is something we may do rather than what we must do – it is not an equal partner with evangelism and disciple making.
Whilst I understand this viewpoint, I see things in a slightly different way. My hand gets cold in winter and so I wear a glove……if I didn’t, I may get frostbite and then my hand would not function well, the glove enables me to maintain health and to function well. The glove on its own is very nice but remains a glove. So it is with ‘mercy ministry’ – anyone can do it, you don’t need to be a Christian, but when the church engages with it – everything begins to function as it ought and people then begin to see Christ and the Church as it was intended. My conservative evangelical friends will say that I am being oversimplistic but my reading of the Scriptures forces me to share the gospel in word and deed, in every situation and as Luther said;
“It is the duty of every Christian to be Christ to his neighbour”.