There are so many micro cultures in which to do ministry:
A couple of weeks ago, I met an transfer student to our local seminary, Golden Gate Theological Seminary. Like most of their students, they come from the heart of the Bible Belt and study in the heart of one of the last churched contexts in America.
As we talked, I found myself fascinated with his home context and the joys and struggles he experienced doing student ministry in his home state of Kentucky. As he told me about his church and his ministry, I found myself mesmerized about this foreign world where 80% of the student body has some connection to some local church.
Now, he made it clear to me that of course that is just 80% attendance, not necessarily 80% Christian or disciples. But still 80%!!! Is that crazy? Maybe for you that is the norm, and your biggest angst is working your tail off trying to break past the dualism that is so present in the life of your students. Maybe you are forever disheartened because the larger church in town is so much more appealing and sexy than yours is? Or something else? If that is your context, I would love to understand it and know your joys and failures.
My context could not be more opposite.
My good friend, and one of the best youth workers I know, Ryan Reed, is the faith community representative to our local blue ribbon commission on teen drinking. (Or something like that) And he was sharing some of the figures from his last meeting:
In our little county there are 11,000 middle and high school students.
This is not abnormal. But this prompted the next question, how many of those 11,000 students are connected to a local church. And we racked our brains, identified the major and minor players in student ministry in our area, and we came up with a whopping 300 students. Not in my ministry, 350 in our entire county. YIKES! This means that only 3.1% or so of students are connected in the most basic level to a church. This isn’t committed Christians, or even committed attenders, this is attending once within a month.
This raises the next question, “WHAT IN THE WORLD ARE WE SUPPOSED TO DO TO REACH THIS LOST GENERATION IN A TOTALLY LOST CONTEXT?”
Over the next couple of posts, I am going to be wrestling with how we are choosing to work this out. Our values, the gospel story, and our programmatic plan that will hopefully make a small dent, and rescue even a few from the alienation, anxiety, and depression that has marked our students.
I would also love if this was a two way street. This is just my simply musings bases on my limited perspective and world view. I need to be sharpened by you and your context so that we are both strengthened and encouraged to continue to fight the good fight!
Following in the footsteps of the first missionary, the Apostle Paul, we must remember that every context requires wisdom and discernment to find those thin places where the cultural needs meet the good news of Jesus.
May we embrace our context, and lean into the Holy Spirit for guidance as we long for our students to know and love our savior, Jesus.
Let’s get after it this year!