Monday, March 30, 2009

Effective Youth and Family Ministry is: Rooted

Effective Youth and Family Ministry is: Baptismal

As I have mentioned, I am going to be "blogging" through a document that comes out of the ELCA YM NETWORK. It is "definition of effective youth and family ministry". They have placed te document out there and are asking for feedback and discussion. I have decided to copy and paste the document. The document will be in quote block and my thoughts and reactions will be in regular text.

Effective Youth and Family Ministry in ELCA congregations is:

1. Discipleship
2. Baptismal
3. Rooted
4. Excellence
5. Welcoming
6. Cross Generational
7. Advocacy
8. Congregational
9. Connected
10. Partnership

Effective Youth and Family Ministry is: Rooted

Statement: The Lutheran Biblical understanding of God’s love and grace is one that young people and families desperately need to hear.

Biblical Basis: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. This is not your own doing but is a gift from God.” - Ephesians 2:8

Rationale: There was a time when people lived in a much more “rooted” environment.

Rooted is an area where we need to take a long look at and see how it can be applied to our ministries to children, students and parents. If we take a look at our ministries and look at th children and teens involved; we will notice that alot of them come from families that have been up-rooted and many do not have extended families near them.

Thus, we as a church can use this has a ministry opportunity by placing "spiritual" aunts/uncles/grandparents among them. We can also create ministry opportunities that will allow them to feel "rooted".

• Extended families tended to live in fairly close proximity to each other, allowing for relationships to develop between uncles, aunts, nieces, nephews, and grandparents.

• The length of time people would work not only on a single profession, but quite often for a single employer, was significantly longer than it is today. It was not uncommon for people to spend 20 to 30 years, or perhaps even an entire career, with loyalty to a company or a supervisor.

• The length of time people would live in a single home was much longer than it is today. The concept of “starter,” “middle,” “dream,” and “retirement” homes is a relatively new phenomenon in our social structure.

• The speed of change in our culture has continued to increase. New technologies and the availability of communication in ways we couldn’t even dream of just 20 years ago have completely changed the way we live. And the world we live in is socially and theologically pluralistic. Absolutes are rare and values of individualism are celebrated culturally over values of community.

These four factual statements stand-alone. They give us a strong foundation for why that we need to think/rethink about the Gospel and Being Rooted.

So how do people of faith live in this type of a world? How do we relate to a narrative that we consider to be unchanging and enduring across time?

For me, I think that is is very important that we remember that we are part of the active-narrative. We are part of God's narrative. The story of His creation and world still occurs today. Too often, I think that individuals believe that "the story" has been sealed with the conclusion of the Bible.

How do we live in this type of the world? I think that we try to live out the very important words of Jesus: Love God / Love Others. We also look through the lenses of "being rooted" and reavh out to those who do not have permanent/visible roots in our community AND we make sure that we reach out and include them in an intimiate community.

Effective youth and family ministry is rooted. We are rooted to avoid our theology and our doctrine from being blown about by the winds of change. That is not to say that we don’t continue to ask questions, to examine doctrine, and to grow. However, we must be rooted.

We are rooted in the Word of God in written form which is the norm of our faith. All that we do in youth and family ministry must tell the story of the God of love. We are rooted in the Word of God incarnate, which centers our faith on the love and grace of God as the initiating factor of our relationship with the Holy. All that we do in youth and family ministry points towards Jesus Christ.

We are rooted in Word and Sacrament, receiving the gifts and the promises which God gives freely to all of God’s people. And we are rooted (but not bound by) our Lutheran traditions, which have historically framed our life together.

The above three sections all come together. It is very important that are ministries our based on the Word. We need to make sure that we are connected/rooted in Scripture. There are many ways for us to do this. One key compontent is for us to have time where we can study the Scripture and see where it plays out into our daily lives.

I think that the ELCA has a great tool for this in the FaithLens. This is the curriculum that ties the lectionary into current issues. I think that it is vital that we take a look at Scripture and we wrestle it with the current issues that our students are seeing and facing.

Finally, we are rooted in the Great Commission, which calls us to reach beyond ourselves to people in need to serve as witness to God’s love, and which calls us to look beyond our traditions to reach to those we have never reached to before, sharing God’s love and including all in the inheritance and blessing that is the grace of God.

If I am completely honest, this is a paragraph that currently has punched me in the gut. I do not think that many of us are "rooted" in the Great Comission. Or, we have a misconception of the Great Commission.

We need to make sure that we are sharing God's love and that we are showering/showing/telling people about the Grace of God. The one thing though that I want to make sure that happens is that we are not doing this just to get "butts in the pews".

Currently, I am part of a project that is bringing poverty to the surface. However, much of the faith community is absent from the table and this saddens me. I think that showing individuals compassion and helping them out of poverty is one way to begin to show and live out the Great Commission. However, I am finding that most do not believe this to be the case.

To be rooted is to always ask ourselves the question: “Is what we’re doing focused on forming faith in the God who creates, redeems and sustains his people?” A ministry that is mature can look at what it does and boldly answer “yes!” to this question.

The last paragraph does a great job in summarizing this scon and it does a wonderful job in laying it down to one simple question. How are you and your ministry able to answer the question ?

I think at times, I am able to say yes. However at times, I think we fall into a rut. I think we fall into the trap of preparring for Sunday, we fall into the trap of doing the status quo and the answer falls to ----- not really.

We must change that and move the focus to being rooted and forming faith and I think that we are making great strides at that here with our family sunday school concept.



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