Guest Post: Young Life and the Church by Lars Rood
A few weeks back my friend Nate wrote a series of blog articles about the relationship between Young Life and the church. At some point I started conceiving of a blog post that I felt needed to be written.
First some background. I didn’t grow up with Young Life. It didn’t exist in my town. A few friends in college were involved as leaders and a lot of people I knew were pretty impacted by the camp called Malibu in Canada. Although I’d never been, I applied and was offered a position on the “Beyond Malibu” team one summer. I turned it down and went to work at Forest Home in Southern California.
Over the years in ministry I’ve had the chance to be around some pretty great young life staff that love kids. I’ve also met a ton of people who had their lives changed through the ministry of young life.
With all of that said I still have one issue with young life. That issue is when church kids are reached out to by young life staffers.
This statement will probably get me in trouble but I will say it anyways. If your ministry is aimed at seeking the lost then when you find someone who is connected to a church you don’t need to reach out to him or her.
I guess where I’m at with this is I’ve seen several Para church ministries (to be clear my statements here are aimed at everyone not just young life) begin to reach out to kids who are already connected to other places and encourage them to come to their ministry. Many of these kids don’t need outreach they need encouragement to stay connected to their churches.
Before you kill me in the comments I will say that I have a solution and it’s really simple. Last year a Young Life club was trying to get restarted in our town. We offered them to use our Youth Facility so that they would have a space to meet. We invited the Young Life staff to Network events and made sure they knew that we really liked them and wanted to work with them. The solution is to partner. I want the Young Life staff person to know that I think they have an incredible role. I want them to know that the church desperately needs ministries who are reaching out and caring for lost teenagers. I want them to feel supported and empowered that we pray and care for them. In return I want them to support the long term discipleship that we are doing with students. I want them to know when a student was baptized and confirmed at a church. I want them to do everything they can to encourage students to stay connected to their churches. We need to partner to love teenagers and to encourage them to not just jump around to the new great thing. Will it be easy to partner? No. But ministering to teenagers isn’t supposed to be easy. Commissions never are.
You can follow Lars at www.larsrood.com for more youth ministry conversations.