Give young people a chance to shine

 

Loved this video I found today, not just because Christiano Ronaldo gets a taste of humility but because I am still wrestling with the ways young people are still pretty passive receivers in many of our churches.


Cristiano Ronaldo humilié par un enfant de 12 ans by youngjeff57

There are problems with this video of course, I was reminded of the film freedom writers by Patrick Regan at Spring Harvest when he showed a clip where a young black person in the inner city explained that the only way out was if you could rhyme or spin a ball. So this video may seem to underline this idea – we only offer routes to young people that involve singing or sport.

There is a parallel going on in church communities too. I am in the middle of Alan Hirsch’s book “The Permanent Revolution” which is arguing that our churches are severely limited by the fact we have edited out the roles of apostle, prophet and evangelist from our leadership vocabulary so we tend to meet just for worship and bible teaching which limits the opportunity for young people to shine in our church communities if they are not gifted musically or rhetorically.

Still working on solutions… But your comments are gratefully received below…

About the author: Krish Kandiah

Founding Director: Home for Good Executive Producer: Books for Life Vice President: Tearfund Tutor: Regents Park College, Oxford University

11 comments to “Give young people a chance to shine”

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  1. Chris Wooff - April 15, 2012 at 4:33 pm Reply

    If you haven’t already done, so I recommend that you read “Too Small to Ignore” by Dr Wess Stafford. Wess is president of Compassion International. He spent part of his childhood being brought up in an African village where his father was a missionary. He contrasts the very different values placed on childhood by two very different cultures and gives some important insights on the way western culture and church, in particular, fails to exploit the potential in our children.

  2. Chris Wooff - April 15, 2012 at 4:33 pm Reply

    If you haven’t already done, so I recommend that you read “Too Small to Ignore” by Dr Wess Stafford. Wess is president of Compassion International. He spent part of his childhood being brought up in an African village where his father was a missionary. He contrasts the very different values placed on childhood by two very different cultures and gives some important insights on the way western culture and church, in particular, fails to exploit the potential in our children.

  3. Mike Greig - April 15, 2012 at 8:34 pm Reply

    Krish, If you haven’t yet read “Culture of Honor” by Danny Silk from Bethel Church, I highly recommend it. He has a similar view of the consequences of churches missing apostles and prophets. These are the 2 of the five-fold ministries that are most connected to heaven and there relative absence makes it less likely that “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.”

  4. Mark - April 16, 2012 at 12:15 am Reply

    Hey Krish, I really appreciated the post a while back on ‘ it takes a whole church to raise a child’. Our recent move to oz has been difficult for our 16 year old girl, but it has transformed her faith. The youth programme here encourages the 14+ age group to get involved with the younger groups. It has placed her on the other side of the fence, from what is church and (from her viewpoint) God going to do for me, to what can I do – initially for the church, but the focus seems to be growing nicely towards, ”for God”. I am a delighted father.

    I was observing how it worked on a church camp this weekend. A lot of planning is put into how to best use the young leaders and a number of slots in the programme were given over to preparing them for the next session. The wonderful youth leader was running a programme within a programme.

  5. Luke Lowrie - April 16, 2012 at 6:10 am Reply

    Hi Krish,

    After 6 years working as a Children’s Pastor I could not agree with you more. I passionately believe that the children who left the church or became disengaged with our Children’s ministry in the first couple of years largely did so because we were trying to squeeze them into a pastor/teacher role that was not their gifting.

    We’ve subsequently thrown out the rule book when it comes to ministry with 0-16’s as me and my team have through reading, revelation and just on the ground experience realised that really responding to a child’s core gifting is essential in seeing them successfully stay engaged as they move into an Owned faith from an Affiliative one. We’ve abolished the phrase ‘Youthwork’ wherever we can now (hence my title being Children’s Pastor even though I spend more than half my time working with Secondary age kids) and accept our teenagers as children in the church family until they complete a homegrown rite of passage we’ve put together called ‘Baptism of Fire’ when they are ready between ages 14-16. A large part of that process, and a recurring theme in our teaching right down to age 9/10, is exploring our gifting, praying for and receiving spiritual gifts and making use of Mike Breen’s pentagon Life Shape from ‘Passionate Life’ as a really easy way of explaining the five fold ministry.

    In general, I find that children who have grown up in church will self identify as a Teacher or Pastor. This isn’t overly surprising as we know that churches have tended to gather like with like – an evangelical church with a strong Biblical basis will often be full of Teachers who similarly engage with God by the Word. I also think that children and adults who have been around church for a while can hesitate to self identify particularly as an apostle or prophet because the phrase is loaded with expectation that there are going to be another Paul or Isaiah because we haven’t taught what apostleship and prophesy really mean properly. However, as God has brought our wider church family and certainly our children’s ministry into a far more charismatic place where we have a wider variety of gifting present and more opportunities to serve, we now have children from age 10 upwards self identifying as prophets, evangelists and apostles on a regular basis, which is massively exciting but also a challenge as we suddenly are struck with the question ‘how do I release the prophetic gift of an 11 year old?’ or ‘how do I channel the enthusiasm of a 15 year old apostle?’… Well, the only answer I’ve come up with is holding the reigns lightly and creating opportunities where they don’t already exist. One example – a girl working through her Baptism of Fire course self identified as an apostle. As such, I needed to find her places to outwork that gifting and kindle its sparks into a fire so I arranged for her to be on adult teams that needed apostolic insight – like the organising group for a big community festival we are running for the Olympics; I asked her to work on a vision for growth and revival for the CU that she had already helped plant in her school and just yesterday she came to me and said God had really laid it in her heart to start some kind of dance ministry. So we prayed about it together, it felt like the Lord so today I’m going to book her a room and she’s going to go and recruit some people. She is not the finished article yet, she still has masses to learn about ministry, she has only been a Spirit filled believer for about 18 months, but when you respond to someone who expresses a desire to serve with trust, a bias to always say ‘yes let’s do it’ first if its right before the Lord (and work out the details later!) and a wholehearted belief that actually the best growth and revival strategy is just releasing God’s people to do what He designed them to do, I don’t think you can go far wrong in this.

    Hope this helps,

    Luke

  6. Graeme Ross - April 16, 2012 at 7:42 am Reply

    I think that technology is a large part of the answer. We have lots of church leaders who want to make better use of technology, but who don’t know how and loads of teenagers who do know how, but who haven’t been asked to help. We need to ask teenagers to do what they are good at instead of patronizing them by giving them token roles.

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