I was at a youth ministry training back in September. I chose a breakout session led by a local area youth pastor from the city. In this breakout session, the speaker asked a question to the room full of other local area youth leaders.
Who here knows the name and number of at least three other youth pastors in your town?
Sadly, only two people raised their hands. I was one of them. I sat toward the back of the room (it was early) and I was shocked at the lack of a response to this question. The speaker acknowledged both of us for raising our hands and commended us. But, man...I was shocked!
She went on to talk about the importance of "Asset Mapping". I'll give you a brief recap of what she covered. You can find more detailed information here: Asset Mapping by Virginia Ward
It is vitally important that youth leaders (as representatives of the Church and of Jesus) be involved in the communities they serve in. This doesn't always mean to show up to all kinds of events, sports, and town meetings. It's not enough to just show up to such things. Being involved in our communities also means knowing the community leaders: police chiefs, principals, social workers, counselors, neighbors, business owners, and more.
At the very least, we should know other youth pastors from our towns and surrounding areas!
Why is this important? Stay with me here...
I've heard people say many times that the Church is a hospital. I never liked this analogy. Of course, all analogies break down eventually. But, this one never sat well with me.
"I want our church to be a hospital!" Really? You know what comes to my mind when I think about hospitals? For one, I don't want to go there unless a baby has been born.
Hospitals are for the sick, for labors, for check-ups, CT scans, MRIs, emergency visits, and visiting people in their death beds. I'm not going to line up to go to a hospital unless I really need to! Should I mention the fact that I dread those hospital bills and nervousness of going to find out some results?
And guess what happens after a hospital visit? You don't go back! You don't return week after week (unless you really need to)! If you need to be fixed, you go to the hospital, they patch you up, prescribe fun pills, and you're off on your merry way! I don't want the Church to be compared to a hospital!
I get that the analogy comes from the desire for the Church to be a place of healing. I really do get it. But, the Church is so much more! It's the Bride of Jesus! The Body of Christ! I say, let the Church be the Church! No other analogies needed.
There's just so much more that the Church is about. Besides healing, the Church is a place of corporate worship, community, faith formation, restoration, sacraments, learning, and more.
Letting the Church be the Church allows us to lead from those strengths and build community with our surrounding community. We do this by knowing who our community is and knowing who we can reach out to for helping our students with proper counseling, medical help, financial support, police protection, and other supports that the community has set up in place. Let the Church be the Church.
Of course, some people may not like this thought and perhaps they look at it as "outsourcing" support for our congregants. If your church already provides such support, more power to you. But, if not, it is a beautiful thing to connect with those outside our church walls who can help in areas that need to be addressed.
You'll be surprised how Christ's love reaches them and they perhaps begin to "outsource" to you.
So, get out there, introduce yourself to the great assets in your community, and get to know the local area youth leaders as well!
Perhaps there's a local area church youth group that doesn't have many resources. Maybe they don't have a full or part-time youth pastor. Or there's a church that needs direction with its youth group. You can start by reaching out, introducing yourself, sharing resources and building them up.
Here's something you can offer them for FREE: FREE Youth Leader Training
Be the Church, not just the church.
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