Passion is the main thing.
I started into Kenda Creasy Dean’s Practicing Passion again today. Here’s one of the many statements that struck me, and I’m still in the introduction. “The theological challenge youth pose to the church is blunt: Are we who we say we are? Do we practice passion, transformed by a Love who never disappoints, and live by a faith so convincing that we stake our lives on it?””
Wow. Can you imagine a church full of adults who live like they have a faith on which they would stake their lives?
For years now one of my focuses in youth ministry has been on training adults to work with youth. In almost every youth ministry situation I’ve every been a part of, the more serious and more challenging problems are with adults than with youth.
We so eaasily get off focus. We strain over spilled drinks or whispering during songs, yet we refuse to talk with youth like they are people, too, hungry for the love of God to be made real in their lives.
Youth need, even deserve, to have some of us who have been where they are and made it to adulthood be willing to share our lives with them.
I had a youth tell me of some struggles the other day. She explained, at great length, this “problem” that teens and preteens face, and that it had been really beating her up lately. She finally identified the problem – hormones.
I assured her that daeling with hormones doesn’t quit when one becomes an adult. Then I realized that we adults sometimes put a great deal of effort into hiding our struggles from teens to the point that it seems we don’t struggle anymore.
Adults ought not air all their dirty laundry before teens; neither should we act like (until we have convinced ourselves, maybe?) we never struggled with the issues and challenges they face.
Dean cites Bonhoeffer:
The future of the church does not depend on youth but only on Jesus Christ. The task of young people is not reorganization of the church but listening to God’s Word; the church’s task is not the conquest of young people, but the teaching of the Gospel.
She (Dean) concludes the introduction:
Youth ministry must invite young people into communities that practice passion – not just any passion, but God’s passion – through acts of worship and witness that invite us to love foolishly, and to suffer love’s consequences as we seek after God’s own heart.