Tag Archives: change in youth ministry

we need some painful disruption in youth ministry

a couple weeks ago, a friend of mine sent me this quote in a google chat:

“The major advances in civilisation are processes that all but wreck the societies in which they occur”
(Alfred North Whitehead)

and, immediately, i started thinking of youth ministry.

and this is what came to mind: i don’t like pain. i avoid pain. but i really like change. in fact, two of the seven vocational core values i came up with for myself earlier this year when i was doing some reflection on where i’m headed were:

I want to change the world. I believe in my gut that I am invited into the ongoing restoration work of Christ in the world, and I want to actively participate in that Kingdom work.

Change is non-negotiable. Upheaval, starting new things, risk and failure are all necessary and good, both for the organization I’m a part of and for my own level of thriving.

sounds like a recipe for pain, doesn’t it? because, really, there’s no way to lean into change and upheaval without also heading into some pain.

i pray for, long for, dream of, and want to be an active part in youth ministry changing. i won’t go into long detail about what that looks like; but i will say that our continued isolation of teenagers, our culturally lame attempts to entertain them, our arrogance about how cool we are (please know i’m looking in the mirror on that one), our immaturity, and our ongoing fondling of bigger and better as a measurement of success all need some painful disruption.

tweaking isn’t going to get us there.

here’s where i might be shooting myself in the foot (which would, i assume, be painful): i’m a youth worker. i can’t escape that calling. and — if i’m honest — i don’t really have a sure-fire recipe for a new way. whatever disruption happens is likely to hurt me in one way or another.

but that quote got me thinking:

what would “processes that all but wreck the [youth ministry structures and assumptions and culture and organizations] in which they occur” look like?
what would it mean?
where would it come from?
what might be beautiful and smelling of the kingdom of god on the other side of it?