The #1 Problem in Youth Ministry

When I was working as a volunteer with senior high youth at a church back in Fargo, one of the young people pulled me aside one night at a lock-in and asked if he could talk. As we started talking, he told me about all kinds of bad stuff happening with his friends at school and with some family stuff at home. There was a girl he liked, but she didn’t like him back. This guy had a lot on his mind.  I could see that he was really struggling with these things, and that he wasn’t able to have a good time because of all of his worrying. I kept listening to him and as he finished his story, he looked up at me and said, “That’s why I started coming to church. I heard you guys can fix these things.”

Ummm… What?

I’m not going to tell you what I said to him, because it frankly sucked too much to remember. There were a lot of uneasy pauses and me saying “yeah, that’s hard”. But I had no idea what to say to this kid who had heard from someone that I had the quick fix to all of these really hard things that were going on in his life. I think this is the main problem with youth ministry as it’s viewed by the wider church. A lot of times, we can be so quick to diminish or explain away the very real challenges and difficulties of young people, because we’re afraid to exist in that space of darkness. We can’t deal with that darkness, because that means that we don’t have the answers. This is where some pretty lame platitudes can come into play. We can say things like “Everything happens for a reason”, but that gets us nowhere fast.

There’s a really great video that talks about a solution to this problem. What would our ministry be like if it was primarily characterized as a group of people who aren’t afraid to sit in the darkness with other people? We don’t have to have easy answers. We don’t have to give cheap platitudes to escape dealing with the pain of the person next to us, but rather we can take that pain into ourselves. Check out the video. I think it’s truly inspiring. Shout out to Mike Friesen for introducing me to the video. Check it out!

What did you think of the video? Was it helpful? What bits in there caught your attention?


Please keep your comments positive. I reserve the right to delete rude or insulting comments. If your comment is critical, please make sure it is also constructive. Thank you.

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