Friday, January 7, 2011

Perspectives From the Field: Youth Ministry Challenges in 2011

What happened to 2010? It may be just me, but it seemed to have whizzed by faster than any other year in recent memory. 2011 has become our new reality. And as we consider the journey for the year ahead, we make plans and resolutions to help us get to where we hope to go. The new year very often brings a freshness and inspiration like no other time of year. We make wishes, dream dreams, and the few bold ones among us actually set out to chart new waters--to do something new.

This is true in our personal lives and in ministry.

As we go forward, we are sure to face new challenges and meet new opportunities. A few challenges we face in youth ministry:

1) Understanding our role in supporting parents as they try to raise strong, smart, and bold young Christians. Sure, parents are the primary caretakers and nurturers. And yes, we youth workers are committed to supporting our young people in their faith walk. But it just seems to me that we need to work more cooperatively with parents. I am asking the question, "How would God guide us in leading the parents?" We constantly seek God about the youth, but what about the parents?

2) We are also challenged to do more in helping our youth in the area of their sexuality. This is becoming an increasingly complex issue. Youth have real questions about who they are sexually. And this exploration of their identity should happen in a loving environment that is supportive and free of judgment. How do we love and support youth who are homosexual, bisexual or transgendered? How do we help those who are promiscuous? What is our role here?

These are just a few of the challenges before us. Though they are great, we should not fret. "...the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world." 1 John 4:4 (NIV). These challenges are an opportunity for us to learn to trust God more and be led by the Spirit of God. God will show Himself mighty! Let us go forth to work and to serve by the power of our God.

by Arionne Williams
Minister to Youth and Families
Metropolitan AMEZ, Kansas City, MO
Deputy Chair youTheology Advisory Board
Loving God, Loving Neighbor

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