Ok, I have writers block. I have had it for at least a month. It took me ages to write this and then I couldn’t even come up with a catchy tag line! I’m slipping……must be old age or living with teenagers. Either one seems plausible.
There are a million and one things to write about in the world of Youth Ministry and every time I start a topic I change my mind. I was trying to figure out what my issue was (well, one of them anyway) when I began to wonder if it was simply the fact that I find myself in a place of confusion in regards to the church, our youth and where we are supposed to be. I actually couldn’t find something I had a consistent feeling about so then I couldn’t write about anything with a sense of conviction. Hence, my writers block.
My current sense of confusion happens because I am part of the lives of my youth through the social networking world and our get togethers. I wonder if I and the Church truly do what we should to help them in their life journey. Social networking has opened a door that allows a youth leader to see the feelings, minds and life struggles of our young people in a new way as they grow and live through adolescence. In one week I watched a young girl work through her parents separation, another lose her best friend, one more lose her father to suicide and a 17 year old continually struggle to raise her 2 year old son. There are struggles in everyone’s life but I truly wonder how some youth get by day to day.
As leaders we plan our youth events. They are fun, thoughtful, full of games, music and learning but I don’t think we truly see into the depths of our youths lives often enough. We can’t fix everything or take on their issues but are we there for them beyond our youth nights? Do we try to understand where they are and where they are going? Youth programs don’t always give them the tools to grow and survive in a difficult world. We tell them to have faith, be strong, and believe. But we need to actually teach them about faith and help them understand why they should have faith and believe.
Youth often stand on the peripheries of the Church and watch the politics, self-indulgence and egotism of some within the leadership and in the church pews. They see the good and the bad. Perhaps if we, as adults, were a little less focused on the internal workings and politics of the Church and create a more of a supportive life experience for the youth we can walk with them through both the good and difficult times in their lives. As people who are involved with youth we are blessed to be given the opportunity to make a difference in how they choose to live their lives. The opportunity to go in depth, to teach,to love and accept is such an extraordinary gift that we really can’t afford to miss it. Perhaps using such a gracious opportunity will ease some Church confusion on all our parts.