Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Low Expectations

Some members of the Des Moines area ELCA youth ministry network were the featured presenters at a monthly continuing education gathering of central-Iowa clergy.  The four of us spent the first hour talking about things we're interested in -- hermeneutics, social media, visual arts, collaborative ministry, and church renewal.  The second hour was loosely structured as a panel discussion, where the pastors asked us a variety of questions.  I left pleased; both in the quality of the presentation and in the warm reception we received from the pastors.

So here is where I start to sound spoiled and ungrateful...

For some of the people in attendance, there was a level of surprise (even shock) at the caliber of the youth ministers among them.  One of the pastors asked if we were doing Bible study with teens and was taken aback when asserted that, yes, the study of Scripture is at the center of our ministry gatherings.  Another clergy member told me afterwards, "I haven't learned this much about youth ministry since seminary."  I think this was a compliment...but it made me wonder.

What does the church expect of lay ministers, especially people doing children, youth, and/or family ministry?  Programming?  Counseling?  Theological education?  Cheerleader?  Resident cool, hip person?


  1. I wonder sometimes whether we have lower expectations of lay leaders, or whether we expect too little of youth. Probably they go hand in glove.

  2. At my current church, I think it may be more of the youth getting the low expectations. I don't know how many times I was told about the bad behavior of the confirmands, but when I got to confirmation, they were great. Sure, most of them were squirrely, but the few that were really transgressing were brought back into line quickly, and mostly did it for adolescent reasons (showing off before the other males).

    If we don't expect the kids to do anything, why hire someone or lift up someone to do anything meaningful? We end up just expecting them to be babysitters.

    I praise God everyday that there are people in our congregation with a vision of more and they are willing to read things like "Contemplative Youth Ministry" and put it in action.



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