As youth pastors we can get frustrated with traditional churches and the hierarchy of institutional denominations.
We want to see change happen, but often are not the ones in the positions to speak about those…let alone implement them. Sometimes we hold in our clenched fists these “stones”…all of the problems we think need fixing. The worship, the structure, the leadership, the youth budget (or lack there of), the rules and regulations, the atmosphere, the Senior pastor, the parents, the theology, the hymns we have to sing, etc…
Over time these lists can pile up like a bunch of stones and before long the only thing to do with them is throw them at the root of the problem…the church. And if the church has stained glass windows, you might be in for a real treat!
But rather than standing outside in the parking lot throwing stones the church, we must get inside and try to bring change from within. I credit this phrase and idea to my friend and colleague John a.k.a “Bags” and our conversation at the Zoo Bar in Pittsburgh.
One way to begin change from within is to transition away from the programmatic and education-based model of traditional youth ministry towards a more holistic, missional, and emerging form. I will delve into these areas and issues at a later date, but simply wanted to comment that we make a difference. As our youth programs transform, as well as our students, the church at large will take notice. Remember, a fire usually begins with a spark…or a cigarette but.
I believe in the Church…the body of Christ. I am not one to easily bail out of something imperfect. I am imperfect…we all are imperfect. And the Church is full of imperfect people like you and I. But I love the people at my church…not all of them mind you, but the vast majority!
I have made life-long friendships here and have seen countless students grow and mature from awkward and smelly middle schoolers to proud, confident, and solid college grads.
I have hope for the Church, for your church and for mine. Rather than leave and start my own church or go the way of the “organic”, unstructured, and non-denominational (none of which are bad by the way) I have intentionally and deliberately stayed at my church and within my denomination. I may not see eye to eye with members and elders in my church, and I may differ in matters of orthodoxy and orthopraxy with my denomination, but I believe that growth happens as a result of these relationships.
I grow in wisdom, knowledge, and humility all the time through accountability and differences. And hopefully, the church will begin to change and grow as the Spirit of God leads on toward a new generation of Christians. And who shall pave the way?
Youth pastors and the current students in our ministries.
So, don’t give up or quite on the church. Anything is possible!
Rather than being a problem pointer, be a part of the solution.
Be the answer to your own prayers.
Instead of throwing stones (figuratively speaking of course), use them to pave the way towards the future.
Let God use your desires, plans, and vision to light a match under the church and be a catalyst for change.
You never know what beautiful thing God can make out of the mess. Places your stones in His hands, join with Him in hopeful confidence, and let him take care of the rest.