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While all of that’s good, it seems somewhat short-sighted to me. So as I’ve been toying with this idea this week, I’ve also begun thinking about what my desired long-term outcomes are for those teens in my ministry.
By the end of four years in my ministry, I want my youth
– To have a relationship with Christ.
– To “own” their faith. I want for their faith to be theirs, and not mine, or that of their parents, or even that of our church. I want my youth to leave confident in their faith so that they can withstand the hurdles that other people will intentionally and unintentionally throw at it.
– To be unafraid of questions and doubts.
– To understand “imago dei” theology & treat others with the dignity & respect that comes from knowing they’re created in God’s image.
– To appreciate other Christian denominations, viewing them not as our competition or enemies but rather as our brothers & sisters in Christ. I want my youth to understand that we can learn from the different beliefs, worship styles, and traditions that exist in Christian denominations.
– To understand their role in the Body of Christ and to know that even as youth and young adults, they’re not just the future of the church, they ARE the church.
– To understand the importance of intergenerational community within the Body of Christ and to know, have relationships with, and value the Saints in our faith community.
– To be connected to a faith-based community that loves, supports, and guides them in their faith.
– To be committed to the local church and to know how to be a part of it – not just by attending it, but by serving it.
– To be connected to a non-parental, caring adult who has mentored them in their faith.
– To have discovered their gifts and understand how to use them to glorify & honor God.
– To be committed to living out their faith by serving others – not just during a week long summer mission trip, but wherever they are throughout their daily lives and in their own communities.
– To know how to advocate on behalf of the least of these.
– To know how to listen to others.
– To be Biblically literate and to have an understanding of the Bible as a story, not just as a rule book, science book, or encyclopedia.
– To understand the basic theology of their faith.
– To appreciate creation and know how to be a good steward of it.
– To be a critic of the culture around them and yet to be unafraid of that culture and willing to contribute to it by creating their own art.
– To understand how their faith influences their perception of current events & vice versa.
– To understand that their faith is a journey, not a destination and that as such, it will always be evolving and growing.
These desired outcomes are very different than those I would have listed when I began ministry 7 years ago, something that also makes me wonder how they’ll continue to evolve as I change, as my faith grows and expands, and as the youth around me change. I also realize that the vast majority of these desired outcomes are difficult to measure and even more difficult to program – at least the way most of us currently do youth ministry. Yet, I think it’s worth experimenting with new, creative, experiential, intergenerational approaches to youth ministry in order to achieve these things.
After all, they represent not just the desired outcomes I have for my youth, but also those that I have for my own faith experience.