Friday, July 21, 2006

The flange square principle and Youth Ministry

When I left school i served my time as an appretice boilermaker in the UK, as huge part of my job was construction out of steel and often involving large I cross section beams (see picture). It was soemthing I learnt to be good at mainly because I had the right tools to work with the supposedly standard size beams when the reality is that if you get two the same it's a miracle. Building, starting or creating youth ministry is not that different it involves putting a series of elements together, the problem is that the raw materials are often different with many different expectations.
To help with this i have come up with what i call the Flange square theory. A flange square (see picture) is a an engineering tool that is used to find the centre of the I beam, because the centre is the only standard same part that every beam has. To measure from the edges (which is actualy a lot easier) usauly means that nothing will fit together (because the edges are prone to errors).

Normaly when we talk about youth ministry models the image a of a one eared mickey mouse comes to mind - youth ministry is something tacked on the side, it is therefore prone to seperation and eventual failure, it is soemthing that the church does it is not part of the church.

In helping a church set up a ministry i take the flange square approach, trying to find the centre of who they are there expression of church and ministry and building a youth ministry on to that in the midst of that. While this is difficult and involves a lot of hard work it normaly results in sustainable ministry that is owned by the Church. My hope is that if we can help them create something that reflects there centre though it may not be flash and may not have the numbers it does allow young people to feel a part of the Church.