Tuesday, August 01, 2006
Mickey Mouse ears and youth ministry
During Synod last week I gave a report on the progress of Youth work in our region. The graph below charts the changes that have been happening over the last 21 years from 1985 to 2006. Given that an average generation of youth is around 6 years it gives what I would consider to be a good indication of where our diocese has been and is going.…
As a chart it also points out some things we can learn from our history and that will hopefully direct us in our future.
Youth work does have a place and is incredibly important to the wider work of our diocese. We do not stand around and just wait form it to happen, as a diocese we have been proactive in dealing with our young people. This is reflected today in the commitment of the diocese to put money into starting and in most cases restarting youth groups as well as developing leaders.
Youth work is leadership dependent; the period where the biggest drop in youth numbers occurred was during a time of general growth in our diocese. I suspect that it indicates a shift in focus for our leadership, from physically young believers to spiritually young believers. The challenge for us is to maintain a focus on evangelism but also on discipleship of our young people. Subsequently without leaders youth work will not happen, because without leaders we struggle to integrate young people into our church. The reason form this can be seen in terms of the nature and position of youth work.
It often fringe to the rest of the Church activities. Which is good and bad, being fringe (like a Mickey Mouse ear) allows it to be a place where young people can be young people develop who they are and grow without the pressure of conforming to the shape of the wider church. But it also means that the connection with the church – the sinew and the blood vessels that hols the ear in place are fragile and normally wrapped up in the youth leader. So when the youth leader leaves the ear drops off… As a church we have a responsibility to strengthen that hold, to allow our young people to be young people but to also pray, support and encourage them also.
Posted by Mich at 11:15 AM