But finally, I found it, and it was as amazing as I’d imagined.
No, it wasn’t a rare novel or comic book worth millions. But to someone who has spent his adult life either doing or thinking about youth ministry (and who has also been a longtime reader and lover of Dietrich Bonhoeffer), it was mind-boggling.
Sadly, youth ministers often think a major part of our job description is to claim a special privilege for the young. We only fortify the generation gap, pushing young people off into youth ministry programs and away from the center of the congregation.
We make the very nature and form of childhood no longer theological but fully cultural.
It is to serve the church-community by hearing, learning, and practicing the word.
God’s spirit in the church has nothing to do with youthful criticism of the church, the radical nature of God’s claim on human beings nothing to do with youthful radicalism, and the commandment for sanctification nothing to do with youthful impulse to better the world. Ironically, the more anxious we have been about young people leaving the faith, the more we have tried to create a privileged space for them; and the more we have created such a privileged space, the more we have created avenues for them to depart from Christian commitment.Andrew currently serves as the Associate Pastor of Northbrook United Methodist Church in Roswell, GA. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer pointed out long ago, youth ministry isn't about setting aside a special place for young people in the church but about moving them into the center of the church community, says a youth ministry scholar and author.Following Bonhoeffer’s “vision for youth ministry, the paid youth worker’s job — her ministry to and for the young of the church — is to remind the church that there is no privileged space for its children; its children must be take into its life. Would the youth go with 20 of their peers to serve on a local mission trip?Her vocation is not to idealize the youthful spirit of the church’s young people but to call the church to look past that spirit and embrace young people in their full humanity.”to your ministry with youth right now, what might change? Or would they serve within their own community with twentysomethings, parents, and grandparents? Or would the minister gear his/her teaching toward all age groups?There, resting at the end of Volume 12 of the “Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works,” hidden in an appendix, was “Eight Theses on Youth Work.” Nobody knows when Bonhoeffer wrote this short essay, but it was clearly a major part of his most consistent pastoral experience.It’s hard for many to believe, but Bonhoeffer spent his entire pastoral ministry, from 1925 to 1939, with either children or youth. And he wrote these theses toward the end of that period, after years of experience with young people, and writing other theological essays and books.For a while, I thought it was like the Loch Ness monster or Sasquatch.People said it existed, but I’d never seen it, and nobody was able to tell me how I could.What if I had applied the to my instincts concerning youth ministry?What if I had designed a youth ministry opposite of my instincts?