“I don’t believe I have seen you here before. Is this your first visit?” said the ruling elder to the young man one Sunday morning in the church parking lot. On the one hand, by attempting to greet a visitor he was doing something ruling elders ought to be doing. However, the young man hewas greeting was me; and I had been part of the staff of the church for about ten months as the youth director. To make matters more awkward, he was part of the session that interviewed and hired me. Add to this uncomfortable situation the fact that two of his children were actively involved in the youth program and I found myself at a complete loss for words. Sitting in my car on the way home, I vacillated between embarrassment and anger at having to explain to him that I was not a visitor but actually a staff member of the church. Before I had pulled into my driveway, I had decided that regardless of whether it was his responsibility to know me or not, I needed to be more proactive in communicating to people who I was and what the youth program was doing.
If I could offer any advice to youth directors from my parking lot faux pas, it would be to make sure that you are constantly communicating to other staff, elders, and parents who you are, what you do, and what is going on in the youth program. I continually hear stories of youth staff who arebeing let go because of a lack of communication. The age old question that makes all youth pastors cringe, what do you do all day? is one that we have to answer or run the risk of further alienating youth ministry from the rest of the church. I have to confess that each time that I am asked that question, my hackles get raised, my fangs begin to jut out, and I want to go into attack mode. Yet, I know that almost nothing hurts a youth program more than a defensive, angry youth director. This is why I believe a little preventative maintenance in this area can go a long way in heading off potential conflict and might keep a few more youth directors employed.PCA.
Here are several recommendations that have come from youth pastors around the PCA
1. Keep youth activities posted in multiple places in the church.
Regardless of which direction you go in as you attempt to enhance communication about who you are, what you do, and what is going on in the youth program, the important thing is to learn to embrace the “what do you do all day” question instead of going to fist-a-cuffs each time it gets asked. I am more convinced than ever that if church leadership. parents, and congregations understood what the youth ministry staff does and why they do it, then Job security for vocational youth workers would not be as precarious as it is today.
PCA Youth Ministry Updates:
Over 150 youth gathered at Ridge Haven conference center, February 13-16, for Youth World Awareness Weekend (YOWAW). This was a great opportunity for students to be challenged about their calling and learn about ministries around the world. David McNeely and Ryan Fisk were the main speakers and did an excellent job helping students understand the purpose and power of missions. As always, Dean Conkle brought his unique brand of humor as the MC. Congratulations to MTW, MNA, Ridge Haven, and CEP in this collaborative effort to help high school students live missionally in the kingdom. Check out the website www.ridgehaven.org/rhyowaw.html for more information and next year’s dates.
in January, fifteen youth pastors from around the country gathered at covenant Seminary to think through issues facing youth ministry in the PCA. Discussions included everything from a theology of youth ministry to the validity of our calling. Of the many potential outcomes from the symposium, perhaps the most exciting is the possibility of a national gathering of youth workers in 2011. Please be praying about the opportunity to bring 200-300 youth workers together for several days of solid teaching, encouragement, worship, and relaxation.
Don’t forget YXL (Youth Excelling in Leadership), July 6-11 at Covenant College. This is the PCA’s high school leadership conference designed to help students further shape their world and life view. The speakers this year are Danny Clark, RUF pastor at College of Charleston, and John Craft, RUF pastor at University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and our worship leader is Eric Ashley, pastor of college and career at First Presbyterian Macon. Activities will include whitewater rafting, ministry projects, and leadership activities. We will explore the theme LIVE FREE through the book of Galatians in an attempt to figure out what it means to be set free by Christ as broken people in a broken world. Check out the website http://www.pcacep.org/yxlto find out more about this conference led by CEP and to find out about a scholarship offer from Covenant College for YXL students.