I am pro-local church.
That said…I am everlastingly grateful that God has called and equipped me to work in (oh, how I detest this term) “parachurch” ministry.
For one reason, because of the way many…if not most…churches treat their youth pastors/workers.
I write particularly of full-time, vocational youth pastors; though the premise is sadly applicable to all who work with teens in the context of a local church.
I’m not writing of the budget (or lack thereof), or the folks who gripe that the youth “mess up” the church…or their music is too loud…or their room is painted weirdly…though things like the aforementioned and so much more are “little foxes that spoil the vine.”
I write particularly of those church members/leadership who:
- don’t like that the youth pastor talks about sex so much
- don’t like that the youth pastor spends so much time at games, concerts, and plays that involve teens
- don’t like that the youth pastor takes his kids to camps/programs/concerts that aren’t their particular denomination or favorite “ism”
- don’t like that the youth group is allowing “those” types of teens to attend
- don’t like that the youth pastor is encouraging students to ask their parents to pray and/or study the Word with them
- don’t like that the youth pastor occasionally challenges students to think about the level of their commitment to sports
Yes, I’ve heard all of those and more…some of them during times when I was serving as a part time youth pastor in a church whilst they looked for a full time guy or girl.
Too many church types want “their” youth group to be a social club for the church kids…only. Why do they feel that way? Probably because that’s how they look at church themselves.
After all, the great commission, obedience, discipleship, mentoring, holiness etc are great things to talk about (or listen to); but, gee whiz, you don’t want to complicate my already busy life with actually doing something, do you?
Thus when a youth group starts rolling as a group of Christians seeking to love, obey, and share the Lord (in other words, to be the church) that group can and does make a lot of the church folks nervous…and thus they take out their arrows to shoot at the youth pastor.
And that stinks.