Jake Bouma is the Director of Youth Ministries at St. Mark Lutheran Church in West Des Moines, IA. He’s beginning his Master’s studies at Luther Seminary this fall, and when he’s not drinking coffee, he’s either A) sleeping or B) making another pot of coffee. He named his cat Dietrich after a dead theologian.
Jake Bouma what is one thing you want the youth pastor population to know?
A: Pay attention, habitually.
In youth ministry, it’s a given that there will come a time when your students cease to be your students. You may have an ongoing relationship with them after they’ve left your ministry, but they will no longer regularly come to your events, Bible studies, etc.
So we try our best to prepare them for living faithfully “on their own” in the world by pushing hard for Biblical understanding, life-giving and accountable friendships, an active prayer life, and so on. In a time when our students are consuming information at unprecedented rates (think Facebook, YouTube, text messages, music, etc.), it’s more important than ever for us to help them make sense of it all.
And it starts with you.
Your ability to make sense of the world will directly impact your students’ ability to do so, which means you have to make paying attention a habit that you can’t shake.
Have you considered the spiritual ramifications of having heated arguments via comments on friends’ Facebook status updates? If you haven’t, your students probably haven’t, either.
Have you thought deeply about the recent passage of the Heath Care Bill and its impact on social justice and other spiritual matters? If you haven’t, your students probably haven’t, either.
Are you able to identify five U.S. or World news stories that are happening now or have recently transpired? Are you able to make sense of them theologically? If you can’t, your students probably can’t, either.
If we want our students make an impact in the world, they’ll need to be able to make sense of the world, and making sense of something is light years away from simply consuming it. Someone is going to have to teach them that skill.
That someone is you.