Let me start by saying that I am very happy with where I am at in my position of being a youth director. Looking over the past nine years of being involved in ministry there has been a lot of differences between what each one of these ministries have looked like and functioned.
I remember growing up in the church and going through the motions of having to go through the Heidelberg Catechism in 9th grade (Boy, was that a drag!). In High School we also had to attend bells, yes you read that correctly, we had to play church bells! I completely rebelled against not having to go to bells and eventually won my parents over and stopped forcing me to go to bells. It was the first time that I think my parents gave me the freedom to choose my own path in church.
I felt like a teenage rebel. I started a trend that other kids eventually were able to use to tell their parents by saying, “Bryan doesn’t have to go, why do I have to?” Eventually, a few other buddies of mine dropped out of playing bells and it felt like a sweet victory.
I believe that is was because my parents giving me the freedom over what I did in church, that I am still involved in the church today. In youth ministry, I have noticed when kids are forced into something that they don’t feel connected to, they find themselves being pushed, disconnected, and disengaged with anything that anyone has to say. I believe this is a problem we are running into in our society today.
I’m not saying we need to take a postmodern approach to ministry and let everyone make up his or her own faith. There still needs to be structure. However, I think it is time we start asking the question, “why?”
Why do we feel like our child must attend bells?
Why do we force kids into a setting of learning the word of God when they feel totally disengaged and uninterested?
Why is the structure and the order of service the way it is?
I believe it is when we ask these why questions, that we find meaning and purpose. When we ask why, we challenge ourselves to think deeper than just letting things happen. It is time we quit doing things the same way because it is what has been done that way in the past.
Yes, it may have been a successful way to do ministry 10 years ago, but times have changed and so has the younger generation. I can look back 10 years ago when I was in High School and see that today’s teens are living in a much different world than I was. Granted there are still struggles with identity, friendship issues, and acceptance; the methods and environment that affects teens today has drastically changed.
Ask the question WHY! Whether you are someone working in the ministry of the church or a parent forcing your child to go to something they despise. When we ask why, we find purpose and a deeper understanding of who we are and what we believe. The answer “because,” is not good enough anymore.
Because sometimes God has something new in store for us!