Chapter 1: What Relational Youth Ministry Is Not
Youth ministry does not use “relationships” for instrumental and influential purposes. A truly relational relational youth ministry longs to understand the dreams, jobs, pains, and fears of each adolescent. Root debunk this notion of: “relationships are a more effective tool than programs to get youth committed to the church and its faith. Relationships are what grow a ministry. (p.24)
How do youth workers influence a group of teenagers when they return your favor of a burger and a ride by tagging your car windows with rival gang signs? How do you influence teenagers who refuse your care? (p.15)
The Typical Youth Ministry Formula: (p.24)
Program does NOT equal Influence
Relationships = Influence
Therefore: Relationships + Influence = Growth of the Youth Ministry
Have youth pastors convinced adolescents to be who they really want to be? Have we tried so hard to change them that we have abandoned their dreams, desires, needs, pains, joys, wounds, ideas, and energy?
* Aristotle argues that there are means to an end. Obviously the youth ministry end is to point them towards Jesus. But would it be okay to say some youth pastor use baptisms, programs, invite nights, & flat screen TVs as a means to get the students to view or taste the end?
* Relationships are about needs. So as a youth workers, is it fair to say we must abandon our ministerial needs and desires? If this is true, youth pastors will need to get over numeric growth and talking about their “conversions”. Dan Haugh said it best: It is more about conversations, than conversions.
* I know for me, relationships tend to happen in seasons. Students seem to be always changing (body, schedules, hair style, friends, music, grades) so at times my relationship with them is very strong and at other times it is very distant. For me, it seems like Relational Youth Ministry Is Very Seasonal. Some times I have a lot of students who call me back and there are many times where I get ignored, which means I have to do budgets, teaching prep, and actually attend staff meetings.
* It seems like one youth worker can really only invest in 3 to 5 “unfiltered relationships” at a time. This why it is essential for adult leader recruitment.
* If there is a relationship there will automatically be an unintentional or intentional influence transpiring. If a youth pastor has a name, personality, a cool t-shirt, sunglasses, and an opinion, there will be an influence. So does a youth pastor need to be so self-aware of his/her agendas to know when he/she is being influential? How does one know when he or she is abusing the relationship?
My Confession: When I first started out in youth ministry, I would only go for the jocks because 1) I was really comfortable talking to jocks and 2) I knew jocks had influence. There is just no arguing with a big football player. However when I moved to Pasadena, CA my youth group had absolutely no jocks. I think God wanted to teach me something. It was filled with skaters, punks, smart teens, emo kids, and students that actually hated sports. These students were not intimated by the jocks. They actually thought they were cooler than them. I was really uncomfortable. Although my time at this church I really learned from them. I started befriends students I would never befriend. They started really teaching me about their world and why they enjoy the things they do. To be honest, I grew to really love these students. It was really awkward because I would hang out with them and I would be wearing name brand clothes and my hair would be slick backed; and they would rip me a new one every time. My point: I have grown to really appreciate the students cluster I would not normally be attracted to. So I would consider myself a better youth worker because I can (well… kind of) enter a few non-jock student clusters.