What do you think? - will be tweaked before next DDO meeting.
Theological Reflection on Mission and Evangelism
CRE8 (11-14s Youth ministry)
A Bible verse which sustains my youth ministry is Paul's to the Corinthian church, in which he explains how he adapts himself so that he might reach the people to whom he is ministering. (1 Corinthians 9:20-21)
Sharing the gospel of Christ, to teenagers has had to begin with a demonstration of Christ's love through actions rather than proclamation. There has been a careful development of a relationship of trust, essential as a foundation and this has had to be put in place before anything else. I have had to get alongside them and enter their world, just like St Paul.
CRE8 was launched in September 08 but not under that name. We described ourselves as 'Your space, your place' and discussed with the teens how they saw their identity forming.
Today's youth culture is suspicious of 'authority figures', and does not want to have to fit itself into a programme for this is often the culture of their schools and so something which they do not want to see repeated in a social space.
At school, the ethos in place is one to which young people must adapt themselves. Christ is more patient, in that he does not expect transformation to be immediate, his is a gentle leading through love and an invitation to a life of more freedom. It isn't chastisements which motivate transformation, as it might be in school, it is the anticipation of a fuller life, in which, in becoming all that God wants us to be, there is only more joy and less frustration. This is the atmosphere in which we are hoping to nurture the spiritual journeys of these young people.
The vision which empowered the creation of the youth group was of a wall, with bricks, not all cemented quite correctly but with Christ as its cornerstone. I reproduced this within a computer graphics package and the church prayed around it for a few weeks. Where there were gaps in the mortor, there was a definite light shining through and this was and still is the light of the Holy Spirit, under whose guidance we act. We need to adapt constantly to the teens we meet and can only do this in confidence, if we trust that God will work through us and be in our planning and in our relinquishing of those plans when it is appropriate. Through collaborative prayer and brainstorming, a fellowship has developed amongst the group's leaders so that we are now working more with one heart and one mind and are all sensing together when it would be better to change activities or prolong reflection time.
The relationship with these young people is a dynamic one and it changes from week to week, depending upon their circumstances and experiences; depending upon who attends and the chemistry amongst a particular group of people. We do not turn anyone away and can not predict group size or the balance of ages or genders.
And so over two terms our identity is establishing itself. A vote took place to decide on our name with suggestions from the children. Their identity, their name, is therefore one which they have decided. Afterall, God loved Adam enough to invite him to name the animals.
We play team games, eat together and have a short reflection time which we anticipate will develop. We make use of mediums with which the children are familiar and use IT to present slide shows, graphical displays of slogans or attention grabbing questions or we examine film clips to initiate discussion. We explore what the children think before we begin to consider the world from God's point of view.
When I am surprised by these young people's opinions or experiences, I remind myself that God isn't; that he knew them before he formed them in the womb and has a plan for their lives (Jeremiah 1:5), in which it has become my great privilege to participate. Jesus also shapes the theology of this ministry (Mark 10:13-15). Seeking to be as inclusive as he is, I hope to communicate just how precious these young people are to God.