By Kent Miller
I have been involved in youth ministry in some shape or form for 30 years… (Wow that means I’m really old!) Throughout all these years, I think the number one question I’ve entertained focuses around resources. The language has varied over the years, but sponsors, parents and leaders have consistently looked for new games and activities (preferably with a ‘deep and profound’ meaning); local service ideas (that everyone will “totally love”); Sunday School curriculum (conveying deep “Biblical-Anabaptist teaching that I can just pick up and teach without extra preparation”); Summer service trip locations (which are cheap, just far enough away from home so youth feel like they are “going somewhere” but parents feel like they can still “hover” and will create a life-altering, “change-the-world” experience …in 3-5 days); and of course Bible Studies (easy to use and that are Mennonite… but not “too” Mennonite)…
Our task is somewhat like attempting to appease a ½ trained bear… now I’m not saying youth, sponsors or parents are bears… well, Ok, maybe some of them are, but, the point is, we rarely know what is going “work.” We are constantly learning, testing, trying, failing and sometimes succeeding at what ways best help us create community and develop followers of Jesus. Yet, through all of these challenges, youth leaders have been helping to form the faith of young people for generations. To coin an old phrase, “Kudos to you!” you are making a difference!
My prayer is that this new section of MCUSA’s website can be a place for exchanging and sharing ideas; encouraging one another; and creating new connections across the church. So what are your challenges, and/or what is exciting in your world of youth ministry… Post your comments now. I look forward to the conversation!