Every church says that they are invested in their youth/young people’s ministry.
The key word is they say that they are.
But often their actions betray their statements.
I was part of the church where the youth ministry was booming and the youth made up about 25% of the church’s number/attendance. I remember our lay leaders arguing that it makes sense that since the youth make up about 25% of the church’s attendance, perhaps 25% should be allocated for youth ministry and the lay leaders daring the church to put their money where their mouth is when talking about how important and invested they are in the youth. While I was tremendously blessed by the tenacity of the lay leaders, the overall church responded the way we all thought they would, “Don’t be so ridiculous.”

Another church I was part of said that they were completely committed to the youth ministry. That’s what they said. What they meant was, “Please keep the youth out of the adult’s way.” The youth ministry will plan weeks (sometimes months) ahead and reserve the space we’d need, but we’d get bumped for a meeting that the adult’s will schedule on the fly. Or, the adults will come into the place where the youth held worship and Bible study and just start chatting away as if we never existed. And budget? The pastor couldn’t understand why so much was spent on food and fellowship events, “why does ‘fun’ always have to be part of the ministry?” “Why do you just hang out with the kids? Get them to study, either school or the Bible. You don’t need money for that!” On top of that, I would have to fight for the smallest amount of budget. So, yea, outside of all that, we really want to make sure that we have a strong youth ministry.
The youth ministry was at best an annoyance that the church had to take care of, throwing as little money as possible at the ministry out of obligation.

Now take the next few paragraphs with a grain of salt knowing that, much like Jon Snow, I know nothing. This is completely an outsider view and out of laziness and neglecting due-diligence, I’m throwing my two cents into the mix.

But here is what I do know: The Cal-Pac Conference Manger of Young People’s Ministry (official position title) will be transitioned out at the end of June. That position will be replaced by the Associate Director of Lay Leadership and Age Level Ministries (official title).
“The purpose of the position is to resource leadership ministries in the annual conference as a staff person for the Leadership Essential Ministry Team.”

The job description (from the Cal-Pac website, emphases added by me):

  • Locate, train and mobilize new leaders to increase the ministry base for the local church, districts and annual conference.
  • Coach, team build and resource all levels of leadership for the local church, districts and annual conference.
  • Facilitate assessment of the existing talent to identify strengths and areas needing improvement in the area of leadership. Identify opportunities and plans to develop individuals and teams based on identified needs.
  • Develop appropriate models of leadership for youth, young adults, and adult workers with children and young people, and provide training for those models to meet the needs of local churches and districts.
  • Enlist and train leaders who are responsible for ongoing production of events and ministries related to lay ministries at all age levels in conjunction with existing groups (Laity Council, CCYM, CCYA, CLM, Lay Servant Ministries, children’s ministries, etc.).
  • Monitor financial activities related to this position and ensure sound financial principles are practiced.
  • Follow the rules and procedures established by the annual conference.
  • Perform other duties as directed

What’s bothersome (again from a complete outsider’s view) is that you took a position that was solely dedicated to the young people of the conference and replaced it with a job where of the 8 listed job description, 1 of them has something to do with wholly young people (and combining ALL young people: children, youth, young adults) and the other includes young people (“all ages”).

I get it. Finances. Money is always the problem and money is always the answer. (Yea, yea Jesus is always the answer. But it’s easier to answer with “Jesus” when there’s plenty of money to go around.)

But here is what’s inevitably going to happen. This is two jobs rolled into one. Things are going to get busy and work is going to get piled up on and piled on to the person (who bless, his/her heart, has his/her work cut out for them). When that happens, usually it’s the things that involve youth and young people that go further and further down the priority list. Because their complaint doesn’t register as loudly as the adults. It’s easier to ignore the youth and young people ministry when there are “bigger” fish to fry. Especially when the return that we see in these ministries are rarely tangible. There’s no incoming money or income from these ministries.
Simply put, when push comes to shove — that’s when we can really see how committed and invested a church is to their young people’s ministry. And more often than not, when push does come to shove, young people are always told, “Wait your turn. We have to deal with adult things first.”

That’s why a lot of the young people are going around conference today with shirts (and the hashtag) that say: Young People Count.
And it’s a shame that in a denomination (and conference) that is declining AND losing a lot of young people, we have to remind folks that young people matter. 

I’m sure there were lots of legitimate reasons for this decision. I’m sure I know nothing and am missing some valuable points and insights. I’m sure I’m not making things better by only pointing out problems without solutions. But I’m also sure that the conference youth ministry will suffer setbacks from this — setbacks that we may never recover from.

But like I said, similar to Jon Snow, I know nothing. 

2 thoughts on “#youngpeoplecount

  1. It’s all about $$. Unfortunately. And when a youth ministry grows over 10% of the congregation, it gets VERY expensive. Are they worth it? Absolutely. But many don’t see it that way. They only see youth though the eyes of the budget. “they don’t give to the church.” This is crazy and short-sighted and not Jesus-centered at all. But it’s the way that many think.

  2. All of the above applies to Children’s Ministries as well. I hear a great deal about how much we want families with young children, but far too many churches aren’t ready to commit the resources (money, space and volunteers) to make a great program happen. Perhaps, if enough of us start saying this out loud to those outside or children’s and youth ministry, they will start to understand.

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