Did you know the average tenure of a youth pastor is less than two years? It seems like such an easy job (in fact, people often ask “So what do you do for a REAL job?”), but being a youth pastor is not easy! Really the same could be said for any ministry position. But by the grace of God, our family is now in our eighth year of youth ministry. I believe a large part of this is because we have an amazing church family and a church who allows my husband and our family to travel each year to the National Youth Worker’s Convention.
This time away is like refreshment to our souls. We get to hear incredible speakers and explore current issues in youth ministry, plus we are given resources and tools that help us connect and engage with today’s youth in a world that is constantly changing.
We just returned from the 2015 convention and so I thought I would share a glimpse into what we learned. First of all, it was in the beautiful San Diego, California. Second of all, for the first time ever, we brought a teenager with us to watch the kids so that I could attend the conference with my husband. Having a babysitter is rare for us because we have no family nearby and paying a sitter gets expensive real fast. Yes, we have access to a lot of babysitters, but we don’t like to take advantage of them by not paying, although we do occasionally take them up on their offers for free babysitting. 🙂 So four days of having someone love on and play with my boys while I got to spend time with my husband and baby was a first. It was like a breath of fresh water.
This year the conference focused on the divide between science and religion. Teenagers are turning away from the church because they can’t reconcile what they are being taught in school with what the Bible says, so they go with science because that seems to make more sense. However, there doesn’t necessarily have to be that divide. In fact, science and the Bible can support each other. These are issues we have explore and we have to address. ‘Because the Bible says so’ won’t suffice in a world where Google is at their fingertips. Today’s teenagers wrestle with topics of creation vs. evolution, etc.
We also listened to a great speaker who spoke about the history of adolescence. So often we hear that adolescence is a new phenomenon. We are told that teenagers used to be more responsible, they got married younger, had jobs and responsibilities younger, and that generally our culture has created a bunch of lazy, irresponsible, immature people called adolescents. However, a look at ancient literature (even as far back as the 1500s) paints a different story. There is nothing new under the sun, my friends. It is not worse today then it used to be. It’s just different. If you disagree, I would strongly recommend you read the book In Search of Adolescence: A New Look at an Old Idea by Crystal Kirgiss. She spent a lot of time researching the history of adolescence and came to some fascinating conclusions.
Another one of my favorite speakers was Bob Goff. He is a lawyer who wrote the book Love Does. He is truly living a radical life by just following the commandment of loving your neighbor. Not to mention that he is truly hilarious. Joy just spills out of him and is so contagious. You can check out his website at Bobgoff.com.
I could go on and on about how important this convention is and how we desperately need people to be diving head first into youth ministry. Our youth volunteers play such an important job. Everyone can connect with someone. We have had volunteers of all ages and walks of life and all of them have played important roles in our youth ministry.
I would even dare to say that an answer to all these school shootings is youth ministry! Maybe these people wouldn’t feel so alone or so much hate if they were being loved on and mentored and noticed and if they had a chance to experience Jesus. It’s powerful. I experienced the power of Jesus as a youth and because of that I am a different person today than I would have been.
So the take away from all of this is simple:
We love youth ministry, the conventions each year refresh our soul, and maybe you need to get involved in youth ministry too. 🙂
Happy serving my friends!