note: for some reason the graphics did not post
The purpose of Part 2 was to spark the imagination for creative and out-of-the-box thinking. We intentionally chose not to go into great detail about these ideas because we want local youth ministries to explore and take ownership of these ideas themselves in their local context. However, we are very willing to assist any youth ministry in both the exploration and implementation of these ideas.
PART 2 – AWAKENING THE GIANT
I. Tradition – from Walls to Wings
The importance of story-telling
– incorporating testimony into worship services and programming; encouraging leaders and parents to be open and vulnerable about their faith and life
– sharing the stories of one’s faith community (congregational & denominational)
Room for exploration
– leaving room for different interpretations of our tradition and encouraging unity in diversity
– creating safe spaces for doubt and wrestling with deep questions – do not impose doctrinal conformity, but leave space for exploration – we both grow out of and into a tradition – this is an organic process; our theological identity is not something that can be forced on us
– allowing youth to experiment with fresh expressions of our tradition that resonate with our current culture – let them take the lead in exploring what it means to be Reformed in the 21st century
– Underline the differences between a Reformed worldview and the kind of “pop-Christianity” found in Christian media; renewed commitment to using Reformed curricula; ongoing teaching and training youth leaders in Reformed theology
Be intentional about reminding the congregation and parents of their baptismal vows
II. Education – from Information to Transformation
– Incorporate mentoring into youth programming (intergenerational mentoring and peer-to-peer mentoring) – one-on-one relationship building as the foundation for youth ministry
– Reevaluate our programs and de-program where necessary
– Evaluate our youth programs in terms of the fruit they bear – are they making disciples? What kind of disciples are they making?
– Renewed emphasis on discipleship as the purpose of our youth programs – catechesis for the 21st century that focuses on head, heart, and hands
– Incorporate rites of passage and discipleship milestones beginning in Sunday School
– Equip parents to be the primary disciplers of their children – youth ministry becomes focused on ministry with parents as well as with their children
– Offer Adult “Continuing Education” programs – adults need to model the importance of ongoing faith formation – underlines and models to youth why things like catechism, etc. are important
– Cultivate missional imaginations in our congregations – a passion for making a difference in the local community and the world. Give youth the opportunity to take the lead in this area.
– Teach biblical exegesis and hermeneutics to youth (Fig. 1) – gradual development of emphasis on biblical stories (Sunday School) to biblical story as a narrative (Jr. High) to “speaking with a Reformed accent” (Profession of Faith) to Reformed theological themes (High school)
– Engaging worship – this doesn’t mean “loud, contemporary music”, rather, it means worship services that prepare everyone, young and old, to worship as a way of life – worship services that engage all learning styles (visual, auditory, tactile/kinesthetic) and where the congregation participates as a whole; worship services that prepare people to worship as a way of wife; worship services that cultivate missional imaginations and send people to minister in their communities and spheres of influence
– Create long-term visions for youth ministry – youth ministry begins in Sunday School and extends into early adult years (i.e. youth ministry goes beyond ages 13-18) and is primarily focused on discipleship
– Youth groups need to strike a positive balance between “large group”, “small group”, “missional”, “outreach”, “spiritual formation”, and “community building” events. We tend to default to one or two of these types of events, depending on the strengths and interests of the leaders and youth. All of these foci are needed for the holistic formation of disciples. Change the foundation of youth ministry from large group activities to one-on-one mentoring and build upon that – mentoring, small group activities (Bible discussion, spiritual formation, service projects), large group activities (service projects, etc.), and community building events (congregational events, events with other youth groups, etc.)
III. Culture – from Consumers to Creators
– Intergenerational Church – worship, leadership, playing and praying together – peer based groups have a time and a place, but they should not be our default position
– Embrace multiculturalism – “outsiders” are welcome – embrace diversity
– Train youth in leadership and allow them to serve in meaningful leadership roles
– Become intergenerational – worship, leadership, service
– Counter-cultural preaching – prophetic preaching that challenges the mores of consumer culture, uses cultural references, etc., social justice issues, etc.
– Leadership training for youth and youth leaders – what does it mean to be a kingdom leader?
– Equipping sessions for parents