This is part our story, taking a risk and trying something new in Youth Ministry.
You may enjoy reading this post on its own, but to catch up on the background have a look at Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 first.
If you are tracking along on this journey with me so far, you may be thinking about making some changes...that's great. But don't do anything unless you have some foundation for it all moving forward. In today's post, I'll share some theological foundation for Missional Youth Ministry. Read on, my friends.
Some Theological Foundation for all of this
The philosophy of ministry is simple: we will make disciples (Matt 28:18-20) as we create places for people to Belong to a community, Follow the way and teaching of Jesus, and Serve one another in self-giving love.
Tribes might just be the best way to accomplish this vision of Godly community...or maybe you'll come up with something better in your context.
Now, more than ever, the church can offer a form of community this culture is starving for; that is, community apart from digital connection. We are constantly connected to one another but rarely find opportunity to know one another, listen to or laugh with each other, and create shared experiences together.
From the beginning of the Biblical narrative God is a relational being (Gen 1:26-27). God moves from a place of relationship among the Trinity to build relationship with humanity while guiding us toward relationship with one another and with God.
Jesus’ message to his followers is clear, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn 13:35, ESV), we demonstrate the image of God as we help others belong.
This includes receiving Christ as saviour and going through the ordinance of baptism; yet, our role is also to encourage them to walk with us as we walk in the way of Jesus.
Relational teaching like this is only possible within a smaller group where we listen, learn, and find a safe place to be vulnerable. In this Rabbinic/Mentor/Relational-Learning style, teaching through story and discussion is paramount.
When asked by his disciples which of them would be considered the greatest, Jesus declared that we must deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow him (Lk 9:23).
Today, we are encouraged to find a Mentor (Rabbi) to follow who will teach us the ways of Jesus. In the wisdom of Paul, we should be someone and find someone who says, “Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Cor 11:1, NIV).
Serving must be understood to be less about the action or amount of serving opportunities one is involved in, and more about a shift in priority like the early churches demonstrated; from self to others, from consuming to sharing (Acts 2:42-46).
In a small group serving is seen in the simplest act of taking someone’s coat, bringing food, setting up chairs, leading a game for the group, or shoveling the neighbour’s driveway.
The greatest task of the western church could be to simply get people to think outside themselves. We are a culture that can see and respond to the needs in this world more than ever, yet we are drowning in our own destructive rhythms of consumption to satisfy all of our felt needs.
Serving one another leads to an attitude of selflessness, a denying of self (Lk 9:23) and thinking of others first (Phil 2:1-11).
Relationships are the key to ministry, if what your ministry is currently doing is distracting from strengthening discipleship through relationships it might be time to check your foundation.
“If we transform a country by transforming our churches, and if we transform our churches by transforming our work with young people, then transforming our work with young people can transform our society and even our world.”
- Growing Young: Six Essential Strategies to Help Young People Discover and Love Your Church
In the next post, we'll take a practical look at what Tribes is, and how to equip a ministry team to fully invest in helping teenagers Belong, Follow, and Serve like never before.