Five years of youth ministry
My world view was rocked in my five years as a full time youth pastor. I learned how youth in this next generation are not interested in me having all the answers to their questions. They do not need me or my answers to believe in God. This came as a surprise, because I had been taught by most of my mentors and all of my Christian education how I was going to be the bearer of good news. I was taught how defend the truth and develop honest, moral citizen. This is not a bad motive; however it is not the Gospel, at least how I understand the Gospel.
Most youth I encountered did not doubt the existence of God. They were not interested in apologetics or systems they could build truth on to hold up against the evil society they lived in. They asked me a lot of questions but very few were about anything I was taught in my education and leadership formation.
I was taught how to do ministry from a rational, practical, implicational, definable, and quantifiable way. This was challenged greatly at the turn of the millennium. It was during this period of history when youth began to have access to more information than ever before. The end of the world was coming according to some religious fanatics and there was more access to the information showing the corruption and depravity of man.
The youth had a perspective beyond what my teaching had given me the ability to handle. With in three months of my first job I became what I now call a “missionary in the North American context”. I started asking the kids in a conversational way, what they thought about topics like the: church, God, Christ, religions, sex, drinking, friends, death, etc. It was in this experiment my paradigm shifted from pastor/teacher to pastor/learner. I became a person longing to understand their perspective and their world view. I no longer assumed I new what was going on in their life. I no longer assumed I had the answer for them.
This is why I believe there is a need for “Christians” to find their way into the minds and hearts of people outside the western “Christian” worldview. There is a need for missional believers to communicate the Gospel through the incarnation of truth in a way the Holy Spirit can be proud to show up in. There is a need for a new kind of Christian, believer, follower of Jesus, Missionary, Evengelist, Apostle, Leader, Pastor, Teacher, Preacher and Prophet.
By the end of my five years in youth ministry I barely had any faith left in the church as we now know it. Thanks to the grace of God through the people who have helped me put words to the paradigm shifts I have gone through in the past couple years, along with the missional approach I have been given freedom, life and hope again. I believe this kind of life only comes from the redeeming reality of Christ in a life lived as a participant in the Missio Dei.