Tuesday, 24 February 2009

The worst question to ask a youth worker

You’re not long in the church serving in full time youth work before someone asks you the inevitable question. Perhaps you see it coming & brace yourself.

“After this are you going to train for the ministry?” or “When are you going to become a minister?”

I can put up with the crap pay, lack of career progression & future employment uncertainties. I can even endure sleepless nights & teenagers who smell like death, but in such situations keeping a tight reign on my tongue is quite a challenge. Every effort is made to prevent myself slapping the unsuspecting bystander round the head & screaming, “I am doing ministry you nincompoop!”

Often the question is delivered with good intentions - perhaps someone in the congregation has noticed a positive quality in you - but the implications behind the question are frustrating and can pierce the soul.

“When are you going to get a real job?”
“When will you stop all this child’s play and minister properly?”
“I’ve noticed you’re not bad at what you do, would you like to be promoted & work with some meaningful people known as ‘adults’?”

I guess deep down it’s not just the devaluing of self & position & role that places the bee in my bonnet. I think it’s more the unstated implication that young people are second class citizens & if you are any good at working with them you should respond to the “higher” calling of ministering to adults.

But I hold the views expressed in a recent youth work article. When asked to describe what part of Christ’s body they thought the youth represented, they said, “The reproductive organs! The bit we like to ignore and perhaps feel slightly ashamed & uncomfortable about, but without which the body cannot reproduce.”

Perhaps I’ll share that the next time someone suggests that I’d look great in a dog collar!

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Church the new cinematic experience?

We call it a worship service, but a more accurate description of what most of us do today is something like a "spiritual show."

Too many of us equate churchgoing with going to the movies. It's a performance & our role is to give it a thumbs up or an 'our survey says "uh-uh."' We can treat our worship service like our favourite TV programme; as long as it's entertaining & the characters & the story captures us, we'll stay tuned in. But if it loses it's edge, we'll channel hop to another show.

"Lord, please remind us that in our church service, You are the audience, not us."

Tuesday, 3 February 2009