Rev. Charlie Alcock, Youth Ministry professor and director of Youth Ministry Events at Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion, Indiana, reflects on the 30 years he has spent serving in youth ministry in The Wesleyan Church. This is part two in a three-part series. Read part one here.
11. We must not assume that “fun” time is a waste of time with this group. Everyone needs time to connect developmentally and socially. I have heard this complaint from a group of pastors hanging out with their friends at Starbucks. Just because my knees can’t jump and my back hurts doesn’t mean that well-crafted interaction with youth is any different than sitting around a table with a cup of coffee talking, joking, reminiscing. Again, social interaction is good, and we all need it.
12. The spiritual vitality and passion this group has can spark and encourage the local church. We need to make room for them to have a voice.
13. Teens are doing incredible ministry all over the world right now. We don’t have to wait for them to grow up to validate their ministry. Remember, they spend the vast majority of their day in one of the world’s largest mission fields called the local school.
14. As much as I believe in #12 and #13, teens need mature biblical voices in their life. Teens are great observers and will act quickly (we love this about them). However, they still lack the maturity to be good interpreters. This is not a negative statement about them; it’s just part of every person’s adolescent growth and development.
15. Stop the copycat syndrome. Know your ministry context and design/program for it (see #9).
16. Stop the big ministry pendulum swings. We go to a conference and come back wanting to change everything when really a lot of what we are doing is great and just needs some adjustments. There is a game plan that is reliable, balanced and proven (and even a great example to follow) called the Bible with a guy named Jesus who was a good leader.
17. Satan has a great way of getting us to argue over the nuance of a single word in a song, a thought, an idea (fill in the blank with whatever you want here) and divide us rather than unite us. I love Facebook, just like you, and we can use it as a tool not a weapon. Note: Thank you for the well timed and well written articles/books that help us course correct and keep centered.
18.There is a big difference between information and understanding. Information can be obtained quickly and can be mistaken as understanding. The true gateway to understanding is suffering and time, and both will reveal things about us that will either push us deeper into ministry or eject us from it.
19. The university exists to serve the local church and is under its authority. This what I love most about our Wesleyan schools and seminary. The greatest form of research is practice and as my good friend Dr. Chris Bounds would say, “Our goal is all to be pastor/theologians.” I see a bright future here and a fierce commitment in all our institutions to do this well. The church and school need each other to be a biblical unified influence in the lives of students.
20. Why do we think that it’s okay to place the youngest, least-seasoned minister with the group that’s going through the most tumultuous time in a human’s life? We would never do this with our pediatrician; we want them to be seasoned. Yes, this opened ministry-related Pandora’s box. We pay them the worst yet expect the best. They aren’t seasoned veterans coming out of college. Expectations need to be revisited and the church is the mentoring/training ground for ministry. We can’t think plug and play with college graduates.
Stay tuned for part three.