This year’s theme is “The People.” Today we are exploring….
The People who just don’t get “it.”
Rev. Sarah Boberg is the Minister of Youth and Children at First Baptist Church in Red Springs, North Carolina where she serves alongside her husband and pastor, Rev. Bradley Boberg. She and Bradley have an amazing daughter, Scarlet, who has grown to share her parents’ love for church. Sarah is currently working on her PhD at UNCG, where she is studying the call experiences of Baptist women in ministry. If she finds free time, she likes to read, write, and dance.
Unfortunately, there are people who just don’t get it, and by “IT,” I mean youth ministry. It was an uphill battle in my first few years of youth ministry to educated and show people what youth ministry is about.
There are some people who just don’t understand youth ministry and the reality is there will always be people who do not understand youth ministry. These people sometimes drain us youth ministers and youth leaders, because we are often find ourselves on the defensive side of proving ourselves as a worthwhile ministry. This time and energy we spend proving ourselves as a ministry could be better spent elsewhere.
Here are a few people who just don’t get youth ministry:
The Ageist: Some people are not as familiar with the 1Timothy 4:12 passage as most youth ministers are. There are some people who will never understand youth ministry, because they do not see the value in young people. These people do not see the inspiration, gifts, work-ethic, and hearts of the young people who learn and serve alongside of us. These people do not get that God has gifted all people – even those under the age of 18 – for God’s work. These people do not see the energy and enthusiasm of young people as a gift to the church and work of Christ in the world.
The Budget Conscious: Youth Ministry is not always the most economical choice when it comes to funding and finances. Youth ages 12 to 18 do not have $50,000 a year jobs; therefore, young people do not have the financial ability to completely fund their own ministry. For some budget conscious people it does not make sense to pour thousands of dollars a year into a ministry without reaping a return. These people do not understand the “returns” of youth ministry may not pay in dollars and cents, but more likely will pay in Kingdom returns. These people also do not understand these young people will grow into adults with full-time jobs, full-time pay, and full-time tithes and they will become the next generation to “fund” the work of the church.
The Complainer: An unofficial complaint department exists in most churches. These people do not see the value in many ministries, not just youth, but often have a lot to say about young people. These people focus and make-comment on the ripped jeans and flip-flops the youth wear to worship, or the noise and mess that often exists in the youth room. These people focus on the “negatives” (which really just means the differences) of young people. These people do not remember what it means to be a teenager. They often do not remember the teenage and young adult years as different and formative. These people have not taken the chance to really get-to-know the young people they complain about.
The Delegator: There are some who will volunteer the youth for any and every job in the church that someone else does not want to do. If the bus needs to be washed – “Let the youth do it.” If the chairs and tables need to be moved – “Why can’t the youth do it?” The delegators are not wrong in their want to involved the youth in the larger ministry and work of the Church; however, most of the time the delegators volunteer the youth for the wrong reasons. The delegator does not understand that the youth are not just young backs and work-horses. The delegator does not understand that servant ministry is best taught alongside of a willing servant. The delegator sees the young people as workers and laborers and misses out on the opportunity the church has to better teach these young people a love and passion for God’s work inside and outside of the church.
These are just a few examples of people who just don’t get “it.” As a young youth minister it greatly angered me when people in the church did not understand the many facets of youth ministry. However, as I have grown in my own ministry and personal faith, I have learned to take opportunities to educate the church about youth ministry. The people who don’t understand will never understand if we do not try to teach them and show them.
We as youth ministers and youth leaders need to take opportunities to advocate for our young people. We need to teach our churches about the aspects of teenage life. We need to be open, honest, transparent, and celebratory about what is going on in our youth ministries. We need to do a better job of incorporating our youth ministry into the larger ministry of the local and universal Church.
I can say that there are many people in my congregation that did not understand youth ministry years ago. However, the more they have come to understand the purpose and practices of our youth ministry and the more they have been introduced to and come to know our youth on a personal level, the more they get it!
When people don’t get it you can respond two ways: 1. Get mad, call them crazy or stupid, and complain that they don’t understand, or 2. Take opportunities to educate them about the joys and opportunities of youth ministry.
Here’s to hoping with intentionally and purpose, more and more people will get “it” and come to a better understanding of the value of ministering to and with the young people of our churches and communities.