Well this will be my last posting for a week. My church has been kind enough to grant me a week long sabbatical. Just as Piper’s sabbatical to write “The Justification of God” changed his ministry forever I hope that this week will be profitable for me. At this point I should make one note; my sabbatical is not to write. I am leaving for a week to take the Youth Group to Camp. Yes, this is slightly less profound than Piper’s work. But it is my prayer that this week will be no less significant than Piper’s work.
Our youth has been praying and preparing to leave for camp for months now. It is our hope that this week will be an opportunity for the Spirit of God to work through the Word of God to renew the minds of our Youth. Our goal is not conversions, or life changing decisions. These goals are reserved for the work of the Spirit. It is our job to let the Spirit use our faithful proclamation of God’s Word to work in the lives of these kids. Thankfully we have been able to join up with other Churches in the South East who share this same basic philosophy of ministry.
Unfortunately there are very few youth ministries, and youth camps that are interested in this type of ministry. Most youth leaders that I have the opportunity to interact with are more interested in fun games than with proclamation of the Word. (Now at this point I would like to make the point that fun games are fun. I am often times looking for fun games, and activities that will provide some entertainment for the group.) There are so many on-line youth tools now that many Youth Pastors spend much of their time looking for already packaged information to regurgitate. You can hop on-line find two games, a power point lesson and be ready for Youth Group. As useful as on-line tools are, I am not sure that this method of Youth ministry is making an impact in the lives of our Youth. Games, and idealistic lessons are great for YMCA youth camp, but shouldn’t a ministry of the local church be attaining to something higher? Let me borrow a question from Eric Bancroft: “are we going to distract, despise, or disciple our youth?” As you look to answer this question know that the kids will know what your answer is. It has been my experience, as a Youth and a Youth Pastor, that teenagers are looking for more than a distraction on Sunday night.
I think that what many people in the Church and many youth leaders fail to understand is that we are training the future leaders of the Church right now. The youth are not free labor to set up the Church, and they do not need to be entertained every second that you have them. These are the great temptations of Youth Ministry. If you can shake off these temptations, lock yourself in your study, and prepare for a message as if you were preaching at Grace Community Church, that is when you have figured out youth ministry. Give them God’s Word. Strengthen them with the Milk, and then when they are ready feed ‘em steak. God has given us His Word to change lives (ours included), and He has given us (as Youth Pastors) the youth to change them. So why not use God’s life changing Word to change the lives of our youth.
There is one other Good-bye that I must add. Good-bye Jack.
Yesterday Jack Nicklaus completed his final round in a Major Golf tournament. And it was not a great surprise that Jack completed the greatest career in golf history with a birdie three on the most famous home hole in golf. I must admit that I am a little to young to really remember Jack in his prime. But through my father I know all there is to know about Jack’s career. From his two amateurs championships to the ’86 Masters Jack gave us the greatest golf that has ever been played. I was not able to watch Jack’s final round live, however I was up until 1:30am to watch it on tape. I must admit that it made me very sad to see it end, and when his put on 18 when in for birdie I jumped out of my seat and the remote went flying.
Good-bye Mr. Nicklaus, golf will miss you.