Is it possible to not only reach out, but to be effective to this extreme youth culture and not offend the elders of your church? Is it really feasible to have teens join arm in arm with the battled-scared saints from the last fifty years without the conflict between traditional and non-traditional ideologists? The answer is an emphatic YES!
We, in youth ministry, have focused on new conversion without actively trying to bridge the gap between the different paradigms and cultures that lie within our churches. We are embracing the hard-core kids without bracing our old-fashioned adults. Really, there can be no embracing without bracing.
Let’s pretend. Just say that you were on the building committee when the church built their last facility or remodeled, etc. Now this could have been last year or even fifty years ago. Remember time does not matter, feelings do. Maybe, you pledged hard earned money to support the building fund, helped with the countless fund-raisers, or even bought a pew in memory of someone you love. Does this sound familiar?
Now this young man or woman arrives on the scene wanting to save their city in the next thirty days. These individuals are commonly know as Youth Pastors, their motto: “I’m going to heaven and I’m taking hostages.” On youth night, all these rebellious teens come barreling off of vans into this facility that you hold dear to your heart. Rebellious translated means: kids with colored hair, who have been pierced places, other than their ears, that smoke, stink, curse, can’t pull up their pants, run or drink soda in the sanctuary, that have no respect for the House of God, or D: ALL OF THE ABOVE. Do you think that the adults of your congregation do not want these youth there? Do you really believe they do not want to see them come to the salvation knowledge of Christ?
No, they just want these teens to feel the same way about that church facility as they do.
How do we get the two sides together? Simple, check with the elders in your church to see if their lawns need to be mowed, if the leaves need raking; or have a workday and get your elders to give money to replace dying flowers in the flower beds on your church property. Then, get some of the older ladies to work with the teens in planting the new flowers. Chances are they will begin to bond over the course of the day and will actually dread leaving when the day draws to a close.
There are numerous ways to help your situation. The examples listed above are only a few.
The Living Bible says in James 1:5, “If you want to know what God wants you to do, ask Him, and He will gladly tell you, for He is always ready to give a bountiful supply of wisdom to all who ask Him; He will not resent it.” Know that God wants to speak to you and that He has a destiny tailored for your specific ministry. You cannot always look to others for answers or quick fixes.
Psalms 121:1-2 says it best, “I lift up my eyes to the hills; where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.”
Focus your efforts on bracing (supporting) your elders and they will help you embrace your teens. We must learn to recognize and care about the feelings of others without compromising the Great Commission.
In his book, “Developing The Leader Within You”, John Maxwell stated, “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” We quote this and other leadership phrases to one another after attending one of the thousand leadership conferences that take place yearly around the country. Sometimes we quote them to other leaders as well as our own congregations to make them think we are learned; however, quoting and practicing leadership jargon are worlds apart.