— Keith Klingen (@KeithKlingen) April 18, 2013
I posted this quote on Twitter today that I read in a book called, Passing on the Faith. We live in a world where we compete for different concepts of how to do youth ministry. We go to meetings, gatherings, conventions, blogs, twitter, etc. looking for the newest, best way to attract teenagers to our ministries. We minister in a consumerized church where we wait for folks to come to us, operating in an attractional model of church. I don’t want to debate the model of ministry necessarily but want to share thoughts on what happens when these students or adults come to “us”.
I recently answered a question in a part of a job application process of why I left my last church. Here is my answer:
In my last ministry position, I left due to a difference of opinion in how to approach ministry to students and families. The leadership of the church had a desire for me to organize and run events to simply attract as many students as possible, and therefore have the opportunity to share the Gospel in that setting. My approach to ministry to students has never been about solely attracting students. I want to invest in students’ lives, and connect them with adults who can and will do the same thing. I want to disciple teenagers and students to experience the fullness of God in their lives, and equip them with the tools, practices, and resources that they will need in order to maintain a strong relationship with Jesus throughout their lifetime. My philosophy of ministry was not the philosophy of the church at large, and not the pattern of how their youth ministry had been throughout its history.
I never knew what would be next for me as I went through that transition, and personally, am beginning to feel restless about not knowing “what’s next” after two plus years of taking that last step. When I read that quote in the book this morning though, I am reminded about my heart in ministry, and for what I believe that heart of the Father is for us leaders in ministry. We are called to make sure that no one is without family. Teenagers who come to our programs, events, outreaches, youth groups are all in need of a family. That family might consist entirely of individuals who are not blood related to them, it might be friends, mentors, youth group leaders, etc. but everyone deserves to have a family. I’ve found from my perspective, that when we focus entirely on attracting students, on attracting adults to our church, to our ministry, we lose sight of the adoptive redemption and grace of a loving God. Let us not forget, that we too are adopted by God, that He calls us His son and daughter.
For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.”For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children.
- Romans 8:14-16