Thursday, May 10, 2007

The End

My internship has now drawn to a close. Yesterday was my last official day as the youth ministry intern at youth group. It has been a great semester. I have learned and experienced amazing things and amazing people. I feel like I have been able to get the background and experience that I needed to understand that this is where I want to go after school. This internship was able to help me again realize and support the calling I feel that is on my life for youth ministry.

These are my final reflections:

Youth ministry is hard. All types of ministry are hard, they require physical, emotional, and spiritual energy. You have to pour yourself out to people, helping them along their own spiritual journeys and this can be taxing. It can be a thankless job.

But just as much as this job is hard, its also rewarding. Serving God and seeing him move in the lives of young people is amazing. The greatest reward this semester has been watching the kids grow in their faith. Its been developing relationships with them and helping them to see how much God loves them that has been the high light of my semester. Last night I was thinking about this being my last time there officially and I watched a couple of the kids closely thinking in terms of their growth and I was amazed. For one specific youth there has been slow growth. I have seen him move closer to God and begin leading. When I first began I was worried that there was not a passionate flame that was burning in any of the youth's hearts to be servant leaders but I was wrong. I have been able to see youth raised up to be leaders and now that passionate flame is burning and its only a matter of time before growth takes place.

I have learned a lot this semester about what it looks like to be a leader, the characteristics that a leader must have. I saw how difficult that it can be to be in a ministry positions because the whole world is watching you closely. But I have seen examples of both the youth minister and the senior minister taking their roles and setting examples of just how great ministry can be and they live their lives wholeheartedly for Christ, allowing their love for Christ to spill over into every area of their lives. Its been amazing to see. And amazing to have mentors who are so deep in their own walks with Christ. It showed me the importance of surrounding yourself with people who are going to be able to walk along with you in ministry and offer their advice and spiritual maturity on the issues that are being faced in ministry.

So, as I end this semester, I know that I want this job. I want to be a youth minister and have the opportunity to change and impact youth's lives. This internship has been challenging and confirming and I have loved every minute of it!

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Articles on the Millennial Generation

After reading the books I also read through three different articles on the millennial generation. These articles were:
The Net Generation Goes to College by Scott Carleson
Welcome to the Future: The Millennial Generation by Neil Murray
Implications of National Study of Youth and Religion Findings for Religious Leaders, Faith Communities, and Youth Workers by Christian Smith

All of these articles looked ahead to the future and what each author thought that the future could possibly bring concerning the millennial generation. These articles were fascinating. They presented a picture of what the youth look like and how we as leaders might be able to better reach them.

Scott Carleson dealt with the ways in which the millennial's learn and what is the best way that leaders can teach to effectively communicate with the students. Carleson sees a broad difference between the millennials and the previous generation, he sees that they both relate to the culture around them in very different ways. One of the comments that he made to their learning style really rang true for me, he said that "millennials don't read as much as the previous generation did. They prefer video, audio, and interactive media" (3). This is extremely important for leaders to know. As a youth minister you need to be able to know the ways in which you can best be able to reach your youth group and Carleson provides an answer for this question.

Neil Murray writes to the future employers of the millennial generation telling them of the observations that he has made of the millennials compared to generation x. He talks a lot about the amount of commitments and the schedules that are normal for a millennial to have. This is helpful in youth ministry as you try to understand planning and scheduling. This is also able to answer a lot of the questions that are raised after a youth minister notices the lack of frequency in attendence of the youth group. Murray says this about the busyness and the selfishness that encompasses the millennial's lives. He says "Their young lives are whirlwinds of activity centered on them, arranged for their benefit" (4). This can make it difficult though for a youth minister because their youth are already strung so tight with other commitments. It makes one have to face the issues of priorities.

Christian Smith wrote my favorite of the articles. This article was written for Princeton Theological Seminary after Smith had spoken at their annual youth forum. He writes about the culture that are youth are in and how that affects religion and the religious culture. He sees the central problem of the millennial youth as "teenagers benign 'whatever-ism'" (60) about life. This raises a problem with the church because finding out how to raise passionate disciples of Christ becomes hard when the youth are only whatever about life. This article clearly defined my own frustration with the youth group that I worked with because they too were only whatever about God and about life.

These articles helped me to not only understand the culture but also to be able to answer my own questions that had been raised in the internship.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Well I have finished both The Purpose Driven Youth Ministry and The Purpose and Mission of the Church. Both books were insightful in learning to understand how to both grow a youth ministry and understand the mission of a Church as a whole. Here are some more of my thoughts regarding both books....

The Purpose Driven Youth Ministry
As a whole I really liked this book. Doug Fields is definately on to something when he writes about youth ministry and the importance of its purpose and mission. I like how much weight he puts into the clarity of the youth ministry. I think that this is important today because it helps to be able to understand what the youth want and need and then remain at that same place of wanting to be able to give them all that they need. I like the emphasis on this book about there needing to be an idea or mission if you want to call it that of raising up leaders in your youth group. I think that all to often the youth ministries become about the leaders and not as much about the kids. By remaining with your goal on raising up disciples or leaders the whole purpose of the church moves from yourself to the church as a body of believers.

This idea ties in with The Purpose and Mission of the Church because it is in this book that the idea of the church and its whole purpose is defined. There are different definitions that are looked at in this book of what the Church could look like. But in the end it is basically said that the purpose of the church is to love God and then go out and serve our neighbors. I think that this can be tied into the Doug Fields The Purpose Driven Youth Ministry because to raise up leaders and disciples the first thing that they need to be taught is simply to love God. This is going to be the foundation on which to build. Just as Neighbur used this model to show how a good and healthy church could work so Doug Fields too decided that this would be a good idea. It makes sense. You raise up youth to first know and experiance the love of God. From this all else flows and you cannot have the love of God without being able to love a neighbot and vice versa. Its only from becoming a desciples and learning about the love of God and what that means to them and to us becomes the only way in which we can be disciples and also be able to love from the true love of God that we found.

Its only when we truly love God and have found that love that we can be able to love other people.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Reading: Purpose Driven Youth Ministry

I have been working my way through Doug Fields book Purpose Driven Youth Ministry. I agree with a lot of the things that Doug says in this book, such as defining your purpose and mission as a youth ministry. Knowing where you are going and what you stand for. I think that this is important in having a successful foundation and ministry.

There was one part in my reading this week about students and leadership within your students that I didn't agree with. Fields feels that it is important within his youth group to have student leaders which I feel too is important but I don't like the way in which Fields approaches it. He has students fill out a "student leader application" in which they are asked various questions about their own walk with God, what their friends and parents think of them, and they must have been using the different tools that Fields has for his student to grow closer to God (journaling, memorizing scripture, tithing, etc.). If they make it through the application stage then they must sign a commitment form for the group and the leading they are going to be doing.

I am completely for having student leaders. I think this is a very important part of any ministry, especially youth ministry. But I must say that I don't like the way that Fields approaches this. I would take more of a mentoring role instead of a application process. I feel that by mentoring the student myself as the Youth Pastor or having one of my adult leaders mentor the student and help present them with different opportunities they are going to gradually accept the position of leading.

I am afraid with a technique like Fields that more students would be scared away. I would make it a goal that I want to make all of my students leaders. Maybe not in the youth group itself but in their own lives as well. At home, at school, with their friends, with their sports, wherever they are at I would want to be able to raise up leaders.

Maybe my thoughts are not realistic but I think that by doing something like this you are leaving the doors open to more people who might be interesting in leadership.
Watching youth lead is amazing. Last week was one in which there were opportunities to watch youth lead within the group itself and within a worship service.

I guess this is something within ministry that I think is very cool to watch but harder to work at and to make successful. It seems sometimes that people just want to be led; all the time. They don't want opportunities to lead themselves. But in all actuality one person cannot always do all of the leading. They have to be able to have those around them also lead while they maintain leadership as a whole.

Sometimes it seems in youth this ability to have student leaders isn't always easy and sometimes don't seem possible. It was really neat to see students step up and take leadership last week. The youth group was leading a Lenten Service on Wednesday night in which there was a drama and worship. It was cool to of the students who I have always hoped would be able to step up and take leadership finally take that leadership. They both stepped up and did a great job in leading.

Its powerful to be able to sit back as a leader and see those who you are leading take the leadership and lead you. It made me really think about where I want to be able to shape my own ministry if I ever am able to be a youth pastor. I like the idea of focusing on raising student leaders so that they can not only establish themselves better as people but that they can also see the impact that they have on their peers.

There is something within leading itself too. I think that it is powerful for the youth leading as well. From my own experience as a college student I have grown so much by leading, learning from the mistakes and accomplishments. I can imagine this wouldn't be different for a high school student.

Within the service that the youth were leading it was neat to see the response of the congregation to their leading and to the things that they introduced within the service. There were different stations that were set up in the service to enable different kinds of worship. There was one station in which you could light a candle to represent what was holding you back from Christ and another station in which you could write on the back of a tile what you needed to lay down at the cross. After writing on the tile you would then glue it, writing side down onto the cross and leave it there, symbolising how we need to give Jesus different things in our life and leave them at the cross. The people responded well to this and you could tell that the congregation too was encouraged to see their youth participating in the leading of a worship service.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

I had always wondered where you understand as a leader the line that needs to be drawn between showing the youth the world around them and exposing them to more of the pain in the world that they needed to see.

On Wendesday we watched a movie from the international justice mission about the slave trade. Youth group wasn't supposed to be centred around this, it just kinda happened because we were talking about the movie "Amazing Grace" and its impact on the current state of the slave trade. As we continued the conversation we began to talk about slaves today and the trade that is out there.

After we watched the movie it was sad to see the moods of the kids. Their moods didn't lift, they were shown what a part of their world looked like and it obviously saddened them quite a bit. I was thankful for the compassion that I saw in their eyes but I knew that seeing this wasn't easy. I thought about it for awhile and I was worried that they had been exposed to the pain of the world to early but then I realized that this is the generation that is going to make a difference. If we don't start knowing what is happening in our worlds then we are never going to know how to fix it. Or how to make the world a better place.

So although sometimes seeing where the world is at, especially the third world countries is sad and heartbreaking I think its important. And its part of the mission of Jesus. To reach the poor and the oppressed, the downtrodden. He told us to go into the WHOLE world and preach the Gospel.

This is the mission that we must continue to hand off to the youth because it was a mission that Jesus gave for everyone. Its hard though as a leader to continually see and encourage this mission to be completed.

Monday, March 19, 2007


I have been catching up on my reading and I am currently reading through The Church and its Purpose. There are some really interesting points raised in this book, this quote stood out to me: "The purpose of the gospel is not simply that we should believe in the love of God: it is that we should love him and neighbor. Faith in God's love toward man is perfected in man's love to God and neighbor. We love in incompleteness, not as redeemed, not in attainment but in hope" pg. 33. I really like this quote because I think that it signifies something significant in the Church as well as something that is in the Gospel. We follow the Gospel in the Church as a foundational way that has been around since the time of Christ. The purpose of following this is not that we should become tied up in the matters of legalism but instead that we should love God.

That is the purpose of the Church. To love God. And when someone is loving God because of that love there is an over pour of God's love into other areas of their lives. Showing that loving other people requires that we love God.

This isn't easy though, sadly. And even sadder then that although we think that loving people should be easy in Church because that is where we love God, loving people doesn't always happen either. We are as the author of this book puts it, loving in incomplete love. We are not perfect people. But I am not sure that's an excuse. We get to caught in the Gospel and the law then loving God in Church. And because of that it causes us to love incompletely.