Happy New Year everyone.
I have just returned from a couple weeks vacation in Paris with my wife’s family. My time away allowed me to reflect on the past few years and where I see the future of youth ministry. As I said on facebook the other day – My wife asked me to step away from the IPad, IPhone and email while we were away. I was able to do some deep reading, contemplative, reflective, introspective thinking and I was able to spend some incredible downtime with God in prayer and fasting.
As a result of this time, today we are re-launching our entire Platform – our ministry, social media, workshop series and sermons under the forward looking focus on Leadership in the New Urban. We will focus on the new models required in ministering to all young people, in keeping our sanity and in networking outside our familiar circles.
These are exciting times for those of us who labor in the vineyard. The urban landscape has changed in such a way that nothing is what it use to be. The challenges our young people face are so expansive and can no longer be approached through our previous methods. So what is the New Urban? The new urban is a lifestyle that permeates all segments of life. It’s non geographical. No longer viewed through the lens of suburban, urban or rural. Check out your young people, everyone’s into the music, the dress, activities and the talk of the new urban. It’s multicultural, multiracial and multigenerational. It’s cosmopolitan meets the thug, its hip-hop with a violin and everything in between.
MINISTERING TO YOUNG PEOPLE
For Youth Workers, the New Urban will require us to be at the top of our relational, relevant and revelatory game. Young people don’t want to be entertained, taken for granted or spoon feed. They are living in a world where everything goes and are questioning why they shouldn’t participate. Peer pressure to conform to the world view is intense. The world is telling them there are no limits, no morals and no judgement of anything they do. Yet they want to know how to make God honoring decisions in a world where morality seems to be fading. They want to see us “Walk The Talk”. They don’t want us to be their best friends; they want adults who will walk along side them through their mess, guiding them along the way. Pizza is great, but presence is better. Lights are nice, but loving is more impactful. Gimmicks are interesting, but grace is more desired. Entertainment is fun, but equipping is long lasting. Dodgeball is engaging,but destiny is the focus is.
UNDERGIRDING YOUTH WORKERS
Let’s face it, we are challenged with the new urban also. This world is waxing worse and worse right in front of us and we are about two steps ahead of the young people in keeping up and understanding what’s going on in the secular culture. We are dealing with situations we never expected the young people we minister to would be involved in at this age. Our only advantage is our spiritual maturity and experience in dealing with the idols of the world. The Bible tells us, “we must know the times. . .”. Even though, I have to admit, sometimes I struggle with the burden of our young people. The weight of their plight brings me to tears. But we know all of our problems, all of our pain, all of our situations, all of our heart ache can be left at the feet of Jesus. Place your cares upon Him, He will hear your call. We serve a God who is able to do exceedingly and abundantly above all we can imagine. Trust in His Word, you know none of this is new to Him. Stay encouraged and on your knees.
NETWORKING TO STRENGTHEN EACH OTHER
If we are willing to share our gifts, talents, resources and knowledge we will prevail. If we are willing to network with other ministries in and outside of our normal circles; if we stay unified in the Kingdom building, holding each other up, praying for each other, strengthening each other in our walk, we will prevail. Building strong networks take time, energy, empathy, open minds and passion. In a world of social media, it is easy to make connections, but these connections are not a network. The strength of your network is more important than the size of your network because, in the end, a strong network is something that you carry with you. Today’s youth workers need to be able to build networks and work with others to address our young peoples challenges. In the past it was possible to minister on your own and stay in your personal circle but today, requires sharing information and collaborating due to the overlapping of our young people’s experiences. Where we live is irrelevant, the size of our church is irrelevant, what we did in the past is irrelevant. To assist parents in the spiritual development of their children, we must press toward to the mark . . .together.
So my brothers and sisters in Christ, stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel. I offer this prayer of encouragement from the words of the songstress Laura Stong’s Blessings :
We pray for blessings . We pray for peace.
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep . We pray for healing, for prosperity.
We pray for your mighty hand to ease our suffering
All the while, You hear each spoken need yet love us way too much to give us lesser things
We pray for wisdom . Your voice to hear .
And we cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love, as if every promise from Your Word is not enough
All the while, You hear each desperate plea and long that we have faith to believe .
What if our greatest disappointments or the aching of this life, is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy .
‘Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops , what if your healing comes through tears.
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
And what if trials of this life : the rain, the storms, the hardest nights are Your mercies in disguise.
In Jesus name . . . Amen.
Welcome to the New Urban, ready or not here we go . . .