Ages ago I commented on a book and concept called family based youth ministry – you should see his website, quite useful. Mark Devries is the author. he writes some very useful stuff, challenging for people in youth ministry, in fact too challenging I suggest, many have heard of the concepts in the book and thought, nope not our style, if we can keep up a big ministry I don’t want to know how many fall off at the other end when they turn 18, as long as my 12 -17 year old group is full and ‘pumping’ then I will keep my head well buried about what happens to kids when they are no longer my problem…problem is, as it turns out, we loose 88% of people from the Christian faith after grad from high and before they turn 18…that can be like a 1 year window!
Well let me tell you a story…
This week the secretary at Churches of Christ rang me and said there was an invite to a meeting in 2 days time, the letter had got lost and only just turned up. It was for me.
It was a guy from the USA wanting to speak to some key people in youth mininstry about an organisation called…wait for it –
CHRISTIAN ENDEAVOR – yes, for all those who are first generation Christians and are under the age of about 40, you may never have heard of CE. But my parents and their parents and their before them were no doubt raised on this stuff in church. In fact in the old days you didn’t have a youth group/ministry, you had ‘CE’.
It was your classic moderist approach to youth ministry.
I did everything in my power to avoid this meeting, in the end they came to me in Leederville.
In walked 2 elderly people, one of whom went to youth group with my Dad…did she date him I wonder? Had they invented dating back then…what? my Dad invented it? Oh yes of course!
But with this couple came what appeared to be an out of place young guy, out of place particularly considering the conversation topic…CE!
Tim (35, International Executive Director of CE) began asking a few questions about my thoughts on ministry to youth and where it was at here in WA and Australia, I mentioned Mark Devries book, Tim says, “Oh yes, Mark is a good friend”. I start to see that in front of me is not just some recruit of some pensioners in the US to get an old dream happening again, but a key youth guy who speaks at YS conventions, who is mentored by Josh McDowell no less and who mixes with some of the most influential youth crew in the world. He is rethinking what we have come to call youth ministry, contemplating the challenges laid down by the late Mike Yacconelli in the later years of his life, asking why we keep doing the same things in local churches year in and year out, all attending the big YS conferences year after year in the US and making the same mistakes in applying the stuff…This guy had me!
So what was his line?
CE is being relaunched. They are wanting to deprogramme the way we see and do youth ministry, they are making a COME BACK!! If this gets pulled off, it will be bigger than the Stones comeback (did they make a comeback?) Bigger than ABBA’s comeback…well if they did.
This would be huge!
But what a marketing challenge! I mean you mention CE and most young people just go “ey”?
And most oldies get all nostalgic and glazed over and say things like aghh that Billy Graham crusade of ’64… And people of my generation, just laugh and say oh yeah that old thing!
The line is about changing Youth Ministry to Youth IN Ministry. Making the ‘professionals’ job all about connecting, caring, building relationships, developing beliefs, creating a sense of belonging, building values, creating a sense of cause and so on. The kids actually do the programme stuff. Youth ministry is everything up to the programatic side, then everything after that is classed as Youth IN Ministry. I know, we have had the whole “get kids involved” stuff before, but when I look around, the ministries who are lifted up are all professionals, paid people and their young adult ‘interns’ doing all the work, running the programmes, the big nights, and so on. Oh yes we have our token ‘trainee’ sound tech and maybe a drummer, but when you get ‘big and good’ why would you use young rookies when the best drummer in town is sitting outside praying for some kid??? (cynical, sorry!)
Anyway, I digress, all I wanted to say to you was that this was a bit of a shock meeting, I never expected it to look like this, nor did I expect to sit and agree with most of what Tim said.
Here’s the crunch…Fred Nile is the Aussie head of CE!!!
OK so they may have some credabilty issues for the average Aussie to climb over first!! I know I know go easy on Fred, he loves Jesus too!