I’ve decided I should do an, at least once a year, reflection on youth ministry for the year. I’m actually in the habit of reflecting on the year’s youth ministry anyway but perhaps publishing it online will be helpful for others and a good archive of my thoughts that I can look on in years to come.
Well I’d be lying if I said this year wasn’t a difficult year. Not unsurprisingly so, but difficult nonetheless. This year I returned to full-time study completing the B.Th. at Moore College whilst still working at All Saints Petersham and running the youth ministry there, which has been a delight and a joy! This year marks 8 years for me at All Saints and 9 years for Salt Youth Group, what an honour. Certainly it shown that even the most average youth minister can do extraordinary things given enough time 🙂
So it has been a good year, and the difficulty has been in my divided time between my commitment to study (which All Saints has generously released me and enabled me to do) and my commitment to nurturing the youth ministry at All Saints. I know there have been opportunities to care, train, follow-up, and start fresh initiatives that have gone wanting… Noticeably, this year our youth leadership team has not had the closeness of fellowship and bond of friendship that we have managed to cultivate effortlessly in the past years. This is partly due to a change in family circumstances for myself (our 3rd child was recently born) and some of the other leaders, and partly due to the turnover of leaders we’ve had in the last 18 months. I think I have found that the hardest of all.
God has been gracious in providing kingdom hearted and gifted leaders for our youth ministry, and I am truly thankful, but it is nevertheless a massive blow to have such longstanding well-matured youth leaders move on to new places. None of the leaders have left on bad terms, and all have left for geographical reasons (Melbourne, Bathurst, Ashfield, St. Ives, Dubbo). I have prayed and anticipated for a long time that God might take the youth leaders that we have trained up at All Saints and make them a blessing to new places, I guess I always figured that would be when I was ready to release them 🙂
In 2012 we have had a fairly young and less experienced youth leadership team than we have had in the past and with my adjustment of priorities leaning toward study I think I have let the philosophy and foundations of our youth ministry slip into the background somewhat. This combined with less team bonding I think has had the knock-on effect that or youth meetings this year have lost some of their vitality and purpose… Leader’s retreat, meals, social time together and foundations for youth ministry are firmly back on the top of the agenda for 2013. I always knew these things were vital for the health of a youth ministry (It’s step 2 of how to start a youth ministry!) but I think I took for granted the natural and effortless way these things happened for us in the past.
I know what was lacking this year and needs to be done in 2013 but I’m also conscious of the fact that 2013 might very well turn out as this year has done… I’m praying for even more of God’s grace and mercy that he will not just hold us over the next 12 months but that he will see fit to grow us in our weakness.
I feel a great excitement and burden for youth ministry in Sydney. I particularly feel excitement for the revival and growing opportunities for youth ministry in the city/Inner West area of Sydney where churches that have laid dormant for nigh on 50 years are slowing growing, waking like sleeping giants, and where the seeds of youth ministry are just beginning to sprout. These are exciting times! The hard work and cultivation of Youthworks College is showing it’s fruit in our city and I praise God for it! And in tough financial times I’m pleading the Lord to keep the college open and thriving for the sake of the gospel through well founded, biblically and theologically thought through youth ministry. Lord, there is so much to do.