I love youth workers. They are some of the most creative, progressive thinkers and practical theologians in Christendom. As Kenda Creasy-Dean has said, “Youth ministers and youth ministries are the research and development arm of the church.” One thing I have found among them all is common terminology describing themselves. You hear it at youth ministry conferences and in descriptions written in blogs and websites and even social networking sites. It goes something like this; “Name” is a youth ministry veteran who has been serving in the trenches of youth ministry for____ number of years.
Even though I would fit the parameters above for a “veteran” I am frankly bugged when people refer to me in those terms. I have experienced that being a veteran hasn’t been the magic carpet ride I would have liked it to have been.
I continue to be surprised, blindsided and beat up by ministry on occasion and my veteran status has not kept that from happening.
It is humbling.
I read an article once in a popular youth ministry magazine and when finished I glanced at the description of the author. He described himself as a youth ministry veteran. He had been serving in youth ministry for 3 years! Mercy, you cannot even get an undergraduate degree in three years-though maybe an Associate’s degree.
Youth pastors don’t serve in trenches, they serve is pastures.
That is where they find out the condition of their sheep. That is where the sheep learn to listen to the voice of their shepherd. In the pasture the sheep are encouraged, protected, corrected and led.
Ministry was not meant to produce a super soldier in the line of Captain America who can do everything better than everyone else. There are scores of boring, uncool adults and youth in your church who can do ministry better than you in the area of their giftedness. The Holy Spirit does that and we better get in line with that reality.
We need to change the way we talk about what we do. Can we change our language to actually reflect our calling? I believe what we say and how we say it reflects the state of our hearts. Can we get in line with the One who is the good shepherd; the One who lays down his life for his sheep? Can we embrace a ministry description like that?
Let’s commit together to get out of the trenches and into the pasture.