Tag: Ministry

There is a Place for Young People in an Aging Society

There’s a place for young people in an aging society

Published: July 30, 2013, The Island Packet, Bluffton Edition

By DANIEL GRISWOLD — danielgriswold@gmail.com

A wise man told me this morning that our current culture is very “ageist.” In an area that is full of wonderfully retired and aging people, we live in a focal point of the angst that aging brings with it, in regular life and in worship.

Young people in the college and career phases of their lives walk into a church and are greeted by handshakes and smiles from gray-haired people wearing nice suits or dresses, holding up the structure and traditional styles of worship. In a perfect world, all ages would come together and worship the God of the Ages (or all ages), but the reaction I’ve more often seen is one of segregation according to age, individual taste in style, or by culture. In a time when people basically worship youth, this is not surprising, but how can God’s people be different?

In the Scriptures, it is obvious that God values all people of all ages. Those who are young are the church, those who are middle-aged are the church, those who are elderly are the church. And it is with different perspectives on life coming together that we see life’s picture more completely. The old do not forget what it was like to be young, full of new adventures, fears and risks. The young gain the advantage of wisdom, which is basically the ability to denote patterns in life and share that knowledge with others.

“Since my youth, God, you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds. Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your mighty acts to all who are to come.” (Psalm 71:17-18)

Perhaps segregation started after the World Wars, when young men and women settled down together and simultaneously started families and careers. A mass of people grew up together, supported one another, and raised children together. That solidarity gave them a special place in society as their children grew and created a new world beneath the structures they created. As that generation retires and passes off the responsibilities of the world, a painful process begins. It also seems like there are more older people than ever as the baby boomers remain in health well into their 80s and 90s. My great-grandmother, Alice, is now 102 years old.

So what are the young to do? I think that a bit of humility would do us all a bit of good. We are an aging society and for a time the young will have to come to terms with what it means to be at the other end of life. I think that the benefits of sharing life together outweigh the initial awkwardness of the relationship. Who wouldn’t want to have some sound financial advice, or to hear the stories of their family?

Perhaps that means that we don’t have all the electric guitars in the worship band, or perhaps that means that the projector shows images of cartoons from the 1960s and 1970s. That’s all OK. As we worship together, our picture of life becomes more complete, and it is our common focus on the glory of God, and telling of the great things he has done, that we forget age and become part of a church that is eternal. Can people of all ages come together and be the body of Christ? I know we can, I’ve seen it happen. Have courage and trust in the Lord, great things are possible.

Columnist Daniel Griswold is the director of youth at St. Andrew By-the-Sea United Methodist Church. Follow him at twitter.com/dannonhill. Read his blog atwww.danielgriswold.wordpress.com.

 

Mobile Ministry: Bringing God’s word to the people of the Community

Mobile ministry brings word of God to the people of the community

20091022 Churchgoers

By DANIEL GRISWOLD — danielgriswold@gmail.com

Published: June 21, 2013

The Bluffton Packet, supplement to The Island Packet

 

I’ve been thinking about what it means to be “mobile” as a person with a ministry.

I’ve found that so much of my time ministering to young people has been spent on the road in my little Toyota, on the various winding roads and highways around Hilton Head Island and Bluffton.

At the beginning of my ministry, I spent hours at a desk doing administrative work and getting little things done here and there, but the more I built relationships with the various communities our church serves, I cut down desktime and have learned to do much more on the road. My desk is sometimes replaced by rented tables paid for by my cup of coffee, or by spending a few moments at Saint Andrew’s new Bluffton Ministry Center near Dairy Queen — there is free Wifi there. Wherever my laptop sits, I become a hub of relationships, communications and learning.

A Google search for “Mobile Ministry” brings up articles about ministers preaching on circuits, trucker ministries and various other long-distance traveling ministries. The kind of ministry I’m talking about is not long distance. I am talking about the kind that develops around a “regional” church.

When people find a church they are willing to drive 35 minutes or so to reach, you have a “regional” church. These churches have families from wide and varying communities from urban to countryside, and so the ministers (lay and clergy) quickly learn to live beyond their own hamlet, and see the varying contexts interacting all over.

Here in our area, we have unique culture in each plantation and neighborhood. Our people have all sorts of ways of life and perspectives, so we become more creative to connect and serve, unify and challenge wisely. It would be easy to use the church as a hub and never leave it, because so many people come to this beacon set in the proverbial waters of the communities, like an academic who never leaves the seminary and finds oneself trapped in an ivory tower. The light on the outside of the church walls is just a fable to that person, and eventually the sermons and the advice of the one caring for the community makes little sense to those who live on the outside of the cave.

No, we must go out and be in the community.

Look at Jesus: He did not spend much time in one place, and it seems to have been a reality of the Jewish culture that his family traveled for various reasons. When Jesus was born, a census forced him to be born in a stable (Luke 2:7). After his birth, his family went to Egypt to escape Herod’s murderous attempt to stop the future claim to Kingship (Matthew 2:13). As a youth, he ended up at the temple asking questions of the teachers (Luke 2:46). After his ministry began, he then set out traveling, spanning the heights of Samaria to the depths of the Dead Sea toward the mountains around Jerusalem.

Jesus and his disciples were on the move, an urgency of mission moved them, and Paul and successive generations have moved with little time to remain static, and if so, only to teach for a time. So if Jesus was on the move, we as his followers must consider and act on the power and energy of that movement.

The nice thing about being mobile is that you become a central command for the community. Like a plant reaching out and connecting to new plots of soil and spreading life, you become the shoot that seeds love and hope in many different pots full of fertile soil.

After many years of being a “runner,” or a mobile minister, you begin to see the harvest come to bloom in various ways. God begins to bless the work, and you may see others becoming ministers to the community themselves. It truly is a blessing to see people you’ve cared about care for others and begin to bloom. Here’s to the hubs and nodes — keep connecting, keep moving and bring the Good News to your multicommunity community.

Columnist Daniel Griswold is the director of youth at St. Andrew By-the-Sea United Methodist Church. Follow him at twitter.com/dannonhill. Read his blog atwww.danielgriswold.wordpress.com.

 

The Prodigal Son(s): Notes on Kevin DeYoung’s Sermon on Luke 15:1-32 at TGC 2013

Luke 15:1-32

Sermon Notes on Kevin DeYoung‘s Talk at The Gospel Coalition Conference 2013

(1) The Context (Parable)
Tax Collectors and Sinners chilling w Jesus – Pharisees unhappy
Sinners – those not following the law (not good Jews)
Tax Collectors – people who paid Rome in order to have the right to collect taxes (were seen as cheats, swindled ppl out of money for profit ) – bid on what they thought they could collect.
Picture Jesus sitting w Judges ruling against Christians, hanging with scientists, atheists(?)

(2) Characters – 3 main Characters – Analogy is w the attitude portrayed, “How much more is God than this?”
A, Shepherd – God seeks sinners
God is active in this process
B. A Woman searching for her money diligently – Searching like a mom (find what is lost)
C. Father and his son – goes out to his son while he was a long way off. God is seeking people to save them

In every City – God is seeking

(The mission Field of the last century is booming – Have we been bad stewards while our shepherd sought the lost?)

Zaccheus – The son of man came to seek and to save the lost

*The Point: God rejoices when the lost one is found! Divine Joy – It is public – it is shared, there is eye contact, it overflows

Godly vs Worldly grief (repentance vs shame)

1. Lets be mindful of the relationships and the repentance

Are we friends of sinners? Remember wisdom. No one has been more inclusive of sinners and yet so rejecting of sin.

2. Let us be prepared to seek and to find all sorts of sinners

The older brother needs grace too. The Father goes out to him. The older brother just wants Justice. Nevers vs Always. “I never get this. You always have me.” Can we minister to the repentant and the bitter/Jealous?

3. Let us be marked in our lives by the experience of Joy

The Kingdom always comes with joy. God is radically committed to your joy and his. God seeks and he finds. Do you have an expectation of Joy? Are you waiting for something amazing from God?

Beginning in Youth Ministry: The Art of Perseverance

never give up churchill

Foundations for Youth Ministry: Perseverance

Albert Einstein is quoted often, saying “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results”  He may have been a physicist but it seems that he knew a bit about youth ministry too.  Youth Ministry is cyclical and many elements remain the same: our core truths and teachings, the liturgical calendar and the repetition of the cycles of middle and high school and then graduations.  We are often doing the same things over and over (though in varying and extremely creative ways).  Case in point: I’m so sick of pizza, but each generation of young people seem to gravitate towards it.  It blows my mind!

Here is a modification: “Youth Ministry: doing the same things over and over again, expecting wildly different results.”  Each person ministered to, whether part of a large or small youth group, over time will own their faith in sometimes extreme variations. I’m always surprised by the energy that explodes from empowered young people, and I love (absolutely LOVE) seeing their ideas become reality.

But the hard part of that same principle is the “doing the same things over and over.”  There is a repetition to ministry, and to relationships in general.  How many times do you ask “How are you doing this week?”  “What’s up?”  “How’s the family”  “What are your plans for the holidays?” “Who are you going to be?”  “How can I help you make your dreams reality?”  “Where is my phone?”  “Seriously! Who took my phone? …and my backpack …with my laptop?!”

Monotony and the ordinary challenges of this ministry (the almost parental worry; safety during events; the many awkward conversations; walking with the teen who has thrown off their faith), means that there is a serious burn out risk in the first year to 18 months of ministry.  Notice earlier that I made a correlation between insanity and youth ministry.  You don’t necessarily have to be insane to jump in, but over time, your heart has to be radically oriented towards care and love of those who so desperately need it.  You will need to constantly refresh your God orientation.  Otherwise, you’ll burn out.

How does one do youth ministry day after day, year after year, and dare I say decade after decade?  The easy answer is “Just do it.”  We all have to.  Young people are everywhere and they need adult guidance.  That helps me, but a more theological response is that ministry to the young is a sacred responsibility given to all of us.  No one can say, “I’m not made for this,” or “I’m too old.”  God has made us the stewards of not only the earth, but of the cultivation of future generations.

Deuteronomy Ch. 6:  “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.  These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”

If the love of God is on your heart, share it continually and meticulously with those who are young.  The potential is great, and the results of your perseverance will change lives.  Don’t look at the short-term challenges (just face them).  The real rewards come at the back end.

 

(This article was originally published in The Advocate, South Carolina’s Connectional Newspaper for the SC United Methodist Church)

Beginning in Youth Ministry: Dealing with your Self (Identity and Remembrance)

Remembering The Past

“I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people.”  (Leviticus 26:12)

So far we have dealt with boldness and context.  Boldness being a necessary step in the endeavor of youth ministry, and is dependent on the working of the Holy Spirit.  Then an understanding of context gives us vision for whom we are reaching and how we are to go about it.  Meeting specific needs in a community makes sparks, bonding groups together and models servant ministry.  As a group begins to form, our greatest obstacle is often our own “self”.  Understanding our own growth as a young person is critical in ministry to youth today, and lets explore why.

Either read this, or have someone read this to you while you close your eyes, this will aid the memory:

Take a moment and imagine yourself as an adolescent, about the age of 13, perhaps 14 years old.  You wake up in your bed and look around.  What do you see? What color are the walls?  Is there a window?  Are they decorated with posters? Artwork? Is anyone else there?  School is starting soon.  What kind of clothes did you like and how do you wear them?  Are you trying to have a certain look?  You walk through your house grabbing what you need.  Who do you talk to?  Who do you tell “I love you,” to?  How do they reply?

Now you are on your way to school.  How do you get there? Is it a bus? If so, who do you sit with?  Who do you avoid?  What is important to know in this place?  As you arrive at school, what buildings surround you?  Where do you go and where do you want to go?  What colors are the hallways? Is there a teacher you remember and care about?  What classes do you like, or do not like at all?  Do you stand around or walk with a group you belong in?  What clothes do your friends wear?  What do they talk about?  Do they make you laugh? Or cry?  Or both?  How do you feel as you go from class to class?  Where do you want to be, and what will you do after school?

As you open your eyes, what did you experience? What memories that flooded to you; are there any faces that flash before your mind?  We all were young once, and remembering ourselves is important as we minister.  If we have a false sense of what it was like, and often we can impose our adult notions of reality on the young.  Their world isn’t much different than your world was, especially in how relationships work and how confusing life is in the years we discover our own identity.  Learning to be a grown up takes years of practice, and the transition from childhood is tumultuous as well as exciting!

God made this as a special phase, and understanding how you came to be “you”, will help as you reach out with compassion.  Always remember to remain an adult with safety and rules.  But also remember that as Christ walked among us and knew how we felt, we can bring the good news as we walk among them and transparently glow with Christ’s love to those we love.

(This article was originally published in The Advocate, South Carolina’s Connectional Newspaper for the SC United Methodist Church)

Beginning in Youth Ministry: The Art of Pioneering

As a boy, I took part in a group called “Royal Rangers” which operated much like the Boy Scouts but with different colors and awards. Each year that I participated I was invited to attend the big camping event in Maine.  Hundreds of kids like myself would learn basic survival involving making fires, tying knots, lashing together huts, canoeing, and lots and lots of cooking. I’ll never forget the first time I saw the whole roasted pig we would later enjoy as a meal.  In these events, I would imagine myself as a wilderness pioneer exploring new territory.  Surely I wasn’t the best camper, but I had a huge imagination.  I enjoyed stories about pioneers like Daniel Boone, and the danger tales of the adult campers.  I realized that in leaving the concrete and painted world of civilization for the wilderness, there were challenges that one must overcome.  There were also processes and disciplines that kept oneself alive.

This paradigm of imagination remained with me as I began my studies in youth ministry.  Very early in my internships I realized that I was not in safe territory as I entered the world of young people.  Even as a college student, new culture was already being created and I had to ask what some simple exchanges between youth meant.  I felt uncomfortable in that period of time when I was charged with starting a small group Bible Study for Middle School students, which would then intensify in the first few awkward silences that occur when people of different age groups come together.  So I taught my lessons, I took attendance, I ran events and listened and learned.  It was a growing process involving sacrifice of my pride and giving in to the possibility of personal pain.

The same wilderness principles that I had learned from the rangers were applicable to this “survival” situation.  The goal was to create a meaningful series of relationships and programs that would strengthen young people’s faith.  To accomplish this task, I had to admit that I knew very little about this world, and I would have to observe, be patient, and hear the breathing of this particular community.   A process evolved of brainstorming and proclaiming solutions to problems (lack of excitement, lack of interest, lack of connection, lack of kindness, lack of Biblical appreciation and understanding), practicing the idea of the solution in the life of the youth community (being excited and contagiously so, hanging in the hallways and listening and responding to connect others together, being kind and teaching goodness, loving the Bible and teaching God’s ways through study, service and practice), and lastly reflecting on how the solutions fared and returning to brainstorming for the next big thing.  Many call this praxis, and in the beginnings of your ministry, I call this Pioneering.

You are the adventurers who have decided that young people are worthy of discomfort.  You leave you’re civilization and age group for periods of time to build bridges in youth culture to God and make a way.  Like a missionary (which you really are), you forge forward and patiently build paths that others can follow.  It is this process of Thinking, Acting, Reflecting and Acting again that ensures that you’re pioneering will have an impact.

Like Abraham, a call of God is on your heart and He has said, “Go.”  You respond and begin to act, and the seeds you sow will bring blessing after blessing.  Jesus’ disciples heard the call to “Go” to the world.  So I pray for you, new and veteran pioneers, who seek to be world changers by building paths that others can follow to your God.

(This article was originally published in The Advocate, South Carolina’s Connectional Newspaper for the SC United Methodist Church)

Youth Ministry: Understanding Context – Each Ministry Will Look Different

question mark

Jesus Loves the Little Children.”  When I first heard it, it spoke to me.   At that time I was a little child; I listened, I learned it, and began to sing it myself.  It resonated in my heart, and is likely the first time I began to think about other people different than myself.  The song continues “All the Children of the World.  Red and Yellow, Black and White/They are precious in His sight.”  Now, I had seen pictures of other kids who lived in other places, but this is the first time I considered their hopes, their dreams, and that they had lives.

Over time, I realized how God had made humanity with a huge variance of thought styles, family cultures, and interests.  Each person is made uniquely, and so the song we sung early could be endlessly amended with new lines to include verses about the creative, the logical, those who like to build, and the talkers, and philosophers.  At all age levels, ethnicities, and across the borders of the globe, we are all created as different expressions of God’s own creativity.

The Psalmist wrote: “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well”  (Psalm 139:13-14). We celebrate the creation God has done in us, and each of us shows God’s image expressed in a new and exciting way.

One of the first tasks of youth ministry is to understand how each group of unique people coming together creates a new world – sometimes that world is a bit explosive with the energy of the young.  But by listening to them, you may be surprised that even within the same community, their desires, needs, wants, hopes, and dreams can vary from pocket to pocket.  The information you gain over time informs what the spiritual and communal needs of your youth are.

A group of kids in a mountain farming community might find excitement doing missions in a city.  City kids might be more open to faith and growth while trusting you on a camping expedition or white water rafting trip.  Youth facing constant crisis may find a prayer circle enough, while creative youth might want to start a worship band or participate in the liturgy on Sunday mornings.  Theologically they will be all over the board.  You’ll need to discern how to fill in the gaps of the whole Gospel.

By asking a few simple questions, and ask them frequently, a big picture begins to develop.  “Where are you coming from?  Where are you at right now?  Where are you going?  How can I help you get there?”  These questions I learned in seminary and I ask at least one of them every single week with every young person, with eye contact, and we all process life together.  In the midst of learning the answers and modeling the love of Christ you’ll laugh, play games, lead trips, and teach God’s word.

Love God, love them, be a pioneer, never give up, and by knowing their world you’ll be able to help them build the programs they actually need.  As you learn, you’ll discover new ways to teach The Way.

(This article was originally published in The Advocate, South Carolina’s Connectional Newspaper for the SC United Methodist Church)