Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Context Matters in Youth Ministry

I recently wrote an article about context in youth ministry for Canadian Youth Worker. Here's an excerpt:

Context matters.
  1. Con-text: 
    Noun. the circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood and assessed.

The way I do ministry in my church--large, suburban, Mennonite Brethren, mostly white, British Columbia--is going to be different than the small Pentecostal church down the street, or the Catholic ministry in the next city, or the Chinese church plant in Vancouver, or the Baptist congregation in Winnipeg, or the YoungLife club in Toronto, or the mentoring program in Montreal. And that's okay. We have different contexts.

While there are principles and truths that transcend context, there is no one-size-fits-all philosophy for youth ministry. Yes, we're all called to make disciples. But how I make disciples might be different in my context than yours. Yes, we're all called to share the good news of Jesus. But how I share that good news works differently in different places. Yes, we all need to help young people know and understand God's Word. But how I go about introducing a teen to the beauty of Scripture might be different than how you do it.

How I do ministry depends on where I'm doing ministry. I'm going to have different conversations with the teens in the local high school who have never heard of Jesus apart from a swear word on TV, than the teens who grew up in the church in my youth group on a worship night. I'm going to be addressing different questions with the middle school boys who are just realizing they like girls, than with the young engaged couple in their early 20s who are navigating vocational and identity questions regarding their sexuality and future marriage.

Click here to read the rest.

How are you becoming a student of your own context? Share in a comment.

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