I had lunch with some friends the other day who do college/young adult ministry in the same area that I do. God seems to be bringing us together which is really exciting to me. Anyway, here are some themes which I picked up on in our discussion.
1. Experimentation. Everyone there was actively trying out new ideas. I have found this to be really important in this ministry. There’s no “out of the box” CYA ministry kit. If anything, no ministry in the church is more primed for experimentation than this one.
2. Context. We were reminded that this ministry looks differently in different places/churches. This is partly because of the experimentation mentioned above, but it is also due to contextual differences as well. Again, no “out of the box” kits to work from. Like a missionary in a foreign land, we assess our situations and customize!
3. Supportive Leadership. Because of these first two points, this one is a must. Senior pastors, Elders boards, whatever. They have to be on board with the craziness. One of my friends had mentioned getting his senior pastor to read a bunch of books on youth and young adult ministry. Brilliant!!!
4. Prepare for Failure. I remember hearing in grade school about how many times Thomas Edison had failed before he actually invented the light bulb. I’ve always liked the idea that we can fail forward: meaning that if our failures are bringing us closer to some sort of success, then they are bearing some fruit and not failures at all. In this sense, the only failure is to give up. If we’re in the process of experimenting in our various contexts, we need to prepare for the highs and lows. As we sat around the table we were able to safely and candidly share about our successes and failures in this ministry.