Strange Meeting

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!

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9 thoughts on “Strange Meeting

  1. Surely the first thing they need to do is not a relaunch but a rebadging. A change of name would certainly help.

    I guess on one hand they wouldn’t want to throw out a name that has built credibility in the past for a name that no one knows, but if the name that people do know turns them away, the choice would seem fairly simple.

    Great to hear they’re doing something new but as with you, a mention of Christian Endeavour shouts 1960s to me.

    By the way, I had opportunity to meet and interview Fred last year. Lovely guy and he certainly loves Jesus, but as the head of a Youth organisation …. I don’t think so.

  2. was the reason for meeting with you that they are trying to launch CE through an entire denomination at a time (ie CofC) or because through your YV coaching role you have your finger on the pulse of what an entire denomination is doing with their models of youth ministry? or was it from an ACOM p.o.v. with the training of youth ministry models at a theological level?

    sounds like an interesting meeting nonetheless.

  3. Never heard of CE? Rod seems to pick up on the obvious.

    Take the names and history out of the picture, and you could save alot of young people?

    It does have Scott Vawser all over it. BUT!! even he is only good as the people around him.

    Pray lots, Go Hard.

  4. If CE is run by Fred Nile, who is on the record as recently as 2 years ago, as wanting homosexuality re-criminalised, (poofters thrown in jail) then I will do whatever is in my power to oppose and campaign against CE…or however it is re-launched.

  5. Aghh I thought the ‘Nile’ word might get a comment from Lance, hi! Yes, I must agree, this was my #1 issue when I heard his name, he was rather…’strong’ on the issue…maybe blinded by it…enough said from me.

  6. After reading History Makers by Dutch Sheets, (yes, that’s actually his name!) God works through generations. If He’s the same yesterday, today and tomorrow, then one organisation (like CE) who is really interested in looking forward and not the past gets my vote everytime.
    We have a sorry history of ignoring what has been done in the past and then trying to re-invent the wheel, when we should be twice around Mars by now! If only we’d stop putting down ‘Old Time’ ministries that actually made a big difference in the youth of their day and maybe look into what things made them work and how can we apply some of that in our updated context, we’d be in a much better place. Concepts like connecting, caring, building relationships, developing beliefs, creating a sense of belonging, building values, creating a sense of cause… they are not new concepts, but some of us might have just missed the boat, dazzled by the lights of trying to put on the ‘big event’. (Note: I love the big events too… You should have seen me at ‘shakers this year!)
    I have seen the ‘fall off’ effect and experienced it personally. There isn’t many of the 40 or so around from when I was at Youth Group.
    Let’s not just ignore anyone in ministry (because of the ‘coolness’ factor) but include them in discussions, and who knows… it might just be a great help to those of us who really care for Young People and not how many we can get into our youth ministry programs.

  7. “If only we’d stop putting down ‘Old Time’ ministries that actually made a big difference in the youth of their day and maybe look into what things made them work and how can we apply some of that in our updated context, we’d be in a much better place. Concepts like connecting, caring, building relationships, developing beliefs, creating a sense of belonging, building values, creating a sense of cause… “

    ……being an extreme right bigot….. failing in establishing an effective national political party… making Christianity a laughing stock……calling for Muslim women to be banned from wearing their traditional clothing…….

    Get real.

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