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Through a variety of influences I have renewed my own commitment to the utter significance of youth ministry today — and I mean by that from junior high until adulthood (and that might mean 12 to 30!). Our future churches are rooted in what happens in the next decade with this age group. I have asked a dynamic young youth minister, Chris Folmsbee, to guide us in some conversations about youth ministry. And I’m urging you to join us in this conversation. Today Chris helps us think about “mission” — and he’s got a thoroughly up-to-date approach to mission.
I’m certain that many of the people engaged in youth ministry think
regularly about the mission and work before them. Our unsettled
culture and its itinerant nature require ongoing strategic thought and
In order to avoid being characterized by what Nietzsche referred to as
the “fundamental form of stupidity” (forgetting what you were trying to
do in the first place), I am sure that many of today’s youth ministers
have a variety of mechanisms to keep the mission of their
ministry somewhere on the dashboard in bold, bright font. They are reminding
themselves just what they are meaning to accomplish.
I’m wondering, however, just what the thing we are “trying to do in the
first place” is, exactly. What is our mission? It appears that the mission of most youth
ministries just might be as unsettled and itinerant as the culture to
which it is attempting to impart the great good news.
My recent experience has led me to believe that we are in many ways “on hold” between a season of deconstruction (with a residual number of feelings including angst, ambiguity and hesitation) and a future season of renovation that I hope will largely be comprised of a new commitment to a narrative approach to ministry that will result in a greater devotion to God’s mission.
Specifically, I’m hopeful that many of us who’ve been longing for a fresh wave of thought and practice to emerge might sincerely consider what Chris Wright in his book,The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible’s Grand Narrative
, refers to as our mission. There, Wright defines it as “our committed participation as God’s people, at God’s invitation and command, in God’s own mission within the history of God’s world for the redemption of God’s creation” (page23). Perhaps this ought to be the bold, bright font placed strategically on our dashboard as the thing we are “trying to do in the first place.”
So I am curious to know: have we forgotten what we are “trying to do in the first place?” Am I the only one feeling like we are on hold? Is the pendulum swinging from deconstruction to construction? As we move towards a fresh wave of thought and practice, will the “committed participation as God’s people, at God’s invitation and command, in God’s own mission within the history of God’s world for the redemption of God’s creation” be the mission that we embrace? As it relates to youth ministry, what will be the strategic ways we embody the gospel in an unsettled and itinerant culture?