Thursday, May 07, 2009

CIY Believe dialogue...

It's been many years since my undergraduate education at Milligan. My time there was invaluable. Not just because of the education, but because of the friendships and worldview that I gained. I don't have any biological brothers... just a sister that I love to give a hard time to. But because of my time at Milligan, I gained several "brothers."

One of those is Nathan Gilmour.

He is seriously one of the smartest dudes that I know.

While most of us are still trying to figure out what we want to do with our lives and wondering if we will ever grow up, he was just named a Professor at Emmanuel College, in Georgia!! Seriously!!! I'm 32 years old and one of my best friends is a college professor!!! Wow!!!

We both have some serious experience in the world of youth ministry. As many of you know, who are faithful readers, I've been doing youth ministry fulltime as a career and a calling for nearly 10 years. Nathan, or Nate or Nate-dogg to me, has been doing it about as along as a volunteer. (Which may in many ways make his opinion worth more than mine... the outside opinion is usually the better one.)

Recently he attended a CIY Believe date in Georgia. And made some posts about his experience (HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE). I took issue with a few of his statements, in the sense of open dialogue and learning.

He posted my response HERE. Here's a snipet:
"I think a lot of what CIY does is try to grab their attention and hold it for long enough to share the message of the gospel, and I think they are trying to do it in a way that does a couple of things:
1. It ministers in a fresh way to kids who are Christians already (because don’t we all need a kick in the butt every once in a while when we get off track)
2. It opens the message up to those who have never heard it before.

In my group, for instance, two of my 18 were kids who had never been to church before. They came because their friends said, ‘You’ll like this… it will be fun.’ Now, have they gotten saved? Not yet… but who knows what seed has been planted in their hearts and minds?"

As I said, Nate is a smart, smart dude... way above my intellectual level. But we thought maybe we could have some open dialogue on some of the topics of students, church, worship, conferences and the such. This is NOT IN ANY WAY a "Nate is wrong and Jim is right" thing. This is an opportunity for dialogue, discussion and learning. Are there some things that youth ministry could do better at? Absolutely!! Let's talk about some of those things...

We welcome your input and participation.



  1. Jim

    Like I have said to you before, part of my "job" as a parent is to teach and lead my kids to Christ. I am the one entrusted by God with them. I feel it is my responsibility to be their faith shapers. I don't feel I should rely on the church (or Church) to do all of the work. That said, the Church has a role in helping me. I need the Church to provide a place of discipleship and relationship with peers that cannot be done at home (because I don't have 20 or 200 or 2000 kids). Somebody else is going to relate to my child in a way that I cannot. A truth that I teach at home may just be words until they see it and hear it another way from someone else. I see the Church as filling in the gaps that I cannot provide.

    The same can be said about youth ministry and CIY conferences. As a Youth Ministry, we become the "parents". We have been entrusted with these kids for a time. It is our responsibility to be their faith shapers. It is our only job. But sometimes, we need help filling in the gaps. Someone else somewhere else will say the same thing we say over and over but they say in it in a "trendy" way (which we "deep" Christians see as shallow marketing) and the kid FINALLY gets it! How rewarding but how frustrating!

    The break down comes when I (as a parent) rely on the Church to provide all of the spiritual education my child receives. It cannot be enough because I am the one that has them 24/7. The same with Youth Ministry when we rely on CIY Conferences to provide all of the spiritual education that our students receive. When we look at it as a nice "gap filler" then we can see the minsitry they provide. CIY Conferences are not for every one. But neither are laser tag games, overnighters, Bible Bowl, Praise Band, mission trips, etc. But the conferences are flashy and can get some kids excited to explore. It doesn't always work, but it works sometimes. The age old question...If you could spend a million dollars for one soul, would you do it? Is it worth it? It is to them!

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