The comment by Mike and the response from Martin got under my skin. Nothing personal because I love them dearly….genuinely, not just out of politeness. My previous post outlines my initial thoughts. I am still insistent that we should not look back on the late 80’s/early 90’s with rose coloured spectacles but I have continued to mull over these things that they have raised in my heart.
Why did we get involved in youth ministry in this old era? There was no ‘profession’, very few from whom we could glean wisdom – we were ‘professional amateurs’, people who loved Jesus and concentrated our ministerial calling on a specific target age group known as ‘youth’! We had to learn skills in situ, often making more mistakes than we would care to admit and we were moderately successful. As the ‘amateur status’ grew, we sought to be excellent in what we did and there was the move to the professionalisation of youth ministry were people ceased to be ‘professional amateurs’ but ‘professionally skilled’. This change also transforms the framework in which people operate, the arena is so much wider, so much so that with many years of youth ministry experience, with professional skills, the lack of qualifications barred me from many roles in youth ministry. I left a salaried role. John Piper says;
“Professionalism has nothing to do with the essence and heart of Christian ministry. The more professional we long to be, the more spiritual death we will leave in our wake….there is no professional panting after God.”
Expectation upon youth ministers/workers/pastors has changed dramatically and it may well be that the professionalisation of this aspect of ministry has impacted the spiritual health of many of those who serve in this area.
However, this is a church issue as it should be impacted by our discipleship programmes and recruitment of these workers but I am not sure that this is anything new in the life of the church. Every generation needs to understand what it means to live a God honouring life in its context. The context is changing daily and we need to work out how to support those on the frontline so that they can serve well and effectively. This challenge belongs to us all.
I am blessed to know many good, passionate people engaging in youth work who are passionate for Jesus and challenge my own discipleship journey. I do not think that it has got worse over the last 25years but I do believe it has become harder. I am so grateful to those who stand for truth and live to serve our younger generation. I, for one, stand with them and will do all I can to help them in their role….I know that this is not something I do alone.
Currently, the football (soccer) world was taken by storm by an unheralded Leicester team that won through an emphatic season. Their was no stand out stars although certain names began to emerge. Similar to Greece in 2004 when they won the Euros with a group of players that were unknown to a wider audience. This is unusual, most teams will have a player who is considered a star and if the team is fortunate, they will have a number of stars (cf Real Madrid and their Galacticos).
However, it should be remembered that in team sports, a star player cannot win on their own. Think Pele with Brazil, Michael Jordan with the Chicago Bulls, Kobe Bryant with the Lakers. None of these celebrity players could have won on their own – they needed a team around them, most of whom remain forgotten in the mists of time but were essential to the success of the team.
So it is with Church. There are many who would choose to be the Apostle Paul (yet shy away from the persecution and suffering), yet even Paul needed his support people. Many would like to be the author of a great book, new course, on the platform at the global conferences etc. etc. but we cannot ever lose sight of the community of faith. We are all called to play our part and to engage with the mission. Not all of us will receive the credit, praise or be given a platform but all of us are called to love one another, seek each others best interest and to honour the name of God.
Let’s serve the team and be humble enough to accept our place within it. Lets be satisfied to be the Horace Grant, Steve Kerr, Brian Shaw, or Wilson Piazza on our team.
Have you ever wondered why people do the things they do? Tell me, why do some people;
- phone me to ask if I have read their email? – just do one or the other, not both, you are duplicating workload.
- leave a phone message to ask me to call back when they could just leave a better message? – this is just lazy and adding unnecessarily to workload
- read their presentation directly from notes and give you the handout? – just give me the handout. If you do a presentation then add life to the written page.
- pay for a gym membership to do step training, yet do not walk up escalators? – one is free, the other extortionate
- attend a concert, make a poor recording on their phone and then buy a professional recording to watch? – ignore the poor recording and engage in the concert
There are many, many more but these were the first few that came to mind. What would you add to the list?
“Don’t mistake movement for achievement. It’s easy to get faked out by being busy. The question is: Busy doing what?” Michael Hyatt
In the search for excellence, we need to ask ourselves some important questions. Is our activity;
You may be busy but busy is not always the answer!
One of the good changes within the christian world, in recent times, has been the move away from programme orientated ministry towards people orientated ministry. This may be more theoretical than shown in practice but it is a shift that needs to be commended. Over the last 10 years there have been many a meeting when the phrase, “people are our best asset” has been used. However, theory and practice often collide when people become busy.
This is demonstrated when people get together and talk. The busy worker will be listening but not hearing, no matter how good the communication is. This is a crisis point that needs addressing for any relationship to move forward. If you are not hearing when you listen, this may be a sign that you are over busy, people may have become a commodity to you and this commodity has a lower value than necessary. If this is true – people are no longer your best asset!
Are you hearing those that speak to you? If not, it may just be that you are too busy doing the wrong thing – this is the crisis of busy.
As I am preparing for a seminar on reaching young people, I am re-reading the Pimlott book (Youthwork after Christendom) and have been stopped in my tracks by one page. It articulates many of my own frustrations and has made me quite emotional – want to shout it from the rooftops! Can’t do that but I can write a blogpost.
“Our missiology tends to be determined by our ecclesiology, which then influences our Christology. This means that the way in which churches and youthworkers undertake mission is often shaped by the buildings they have. This approach gives a perspective and view of Jesus that tends to be building centred rather than lifestyle focussed. This is a big mistake…….”
We need space for our work, we need an arena for doing our work but the space required is determined first by our purpose. A street corner may be adequate, a skate park or an old shipping container, we do not always need property, although on occasions it may be so, but we do need space…..what that space looks like does not always equate to bricks and mortar.
Basic thoughts but important thoughts too!
There are times in life when things can seem like quite a balancing act. For some people, faith can be like that too!
In truth, the fruit of our faith is not about being a balancing act, rather, it is an extension of who we are. Take the pressure off yourself, be you! After all, you are the only one who can.
Human nature requires us to think through how we present ideas and solutions with those that we work with. This quote, source unknown, helps to summarise a way forward;
“Never present a 100% solution to a group of experts because they will want to feel like they have improved it themselves and owned it. Learn the art of pausing after 70% and asking for their help.”
“One of the jobs of the leader is to help people get fired up about the right stuff and keep them fired up” – LeRoy Eims
“Communication sets expectations; actions deliver on or shatter those” – Helio Fred Garcia
“The nicest thing about not planning is that failure comes as a complete surprise” – John Harvey-Jones
Have you ever been in a meeting where people want the ideas to work but are not prepared to sacrifice to make it happen? It can be too easy for people to have expectations of others that they are not prepared to own for themselves.
If you want something, you have to be prepared to play your part in making it happen. Don’t place false expectations on others.