The Two Generations That Need Each Other

Originally published December 15, 2010.

I was honored recently to yet again share with church leaders who were not youth ministers my belief and findings about church family-based youth ministry.  During the Q & A time, I was asked a question about how old my church is.  I replied we are an older church family, because we are.  This person doubted that I knew what an older congregation was so I had to publicly say that I’m nearing 50 (ugh) and so those older than me are in their 60s and 70s.  Doesn’t that make up an older church family?  I made my point at the cost of admitting my age.

Brenda-Based Youth Ministry vs. Church Family-Based Youth Ministry

Originally published January 15,2011. 

It is hard to see my name in the title but it is there on purpose.  Too many youth ministries are centered on the youth pastor.  No one would ever tout ourselves as so central to a ministry.  Yet whether from church expectation, our training, or our makeup, we have become too central.

Let me ask this test question.  When you first arrived at your church, did you feel that your number one priority was to hang out with the teens so they could get to know you?  And you felt this was important to be done before they would believe in the next youth ministry vision?  That simple and oft-used statement then leads to the next question.  Why do they need to believe in the new youth ministry plans you brought with you?  Why do you feel the need to change things as a way to show ownership of the youth ministry?  Why is the youth ministry changing when you arrive instead of you continuing what has been happening but what maybe tweaked under your leadership giftings?

Where the Potential of Teens May Be Found—Our Churches

Originally published March 15, 2010.

We are believers in teens.  We believe that through their relationship with God they can change their world.  We believe this can happen like in stories of old such as David against Goliath, the young Joshua, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and Mark, the teen who followed Jesus.  We share recent stories such as the testimonies of Bethany Hamilton, Zach Hunter, Austin Gutwein, Mackenzie Bearup and others.  But not everyone believes in the potential of teens. 

A blogger, Jeffrey Sconce, went on a tear about the two growing views society has of teens.  He said that for the ones who are an annoyance and viewed bad for society, there is the “mosquito” which blasts the “bad” ones with ultrasonic frequencies that irritate teens but are imperceptible to anyone over age 25.  Authorities deploy the mosquito in an attempt to prevent teenagers from congregating, loitering, and just generally existing in places where their presence is not welcome–near storefronts, at the food court, in alleyways, etc.  For the “good” ones, society has been cocooning teens with consumer electronics until they’re ready to be fully functional butterflies on the outside.  Those consumer electronics include the internet, mobile computing, and social networking.  And do we ever cocoon them with electronics!  Did you see their Christmas wish lists?  Have you seen their bedrooms?  Like prescription drugs, electronics have positive usage in our lives.  But there is also a dark and negative side that affects teens more than anyone else.