The planning team for ChurchWorks – Theology Matters offers a blog series to invite you to join other ministers in Decatur this February. ChurchWorks is a time of networking, fellowship and renewal. Join your friends February 23-25th to consider the question “Why does theology matter and how do matters of theology affect our ministries?” We’re going. Are you?
By Carol Harston
Sitting in her office on a Wednesday morning, we bounce between the logistics, leadership and curriculum. Emily, our Minister to Young Adults, and I are planning our first 12-13-14 Retreat for high school seniors (12s), college freshmen (13s), and college sophomores (14s). We are continually seeing that these years of transition are extremely difficult to manage for their personal lives, for their parents and for the church.
The planning meeting can’t help but cause me to hear those haunting questions… How is our youth ministry planting seeds for a healthy and sustainable faith life? How is our ministry supporting congregational involvement past 18? Where are the blind spots in our ministry that can’t be seen until they’re out of the youth room doors and into the wider church community?
Could our traditions and routines pass down a message that is hurting us in the long-term?
Church is rich in tradition. Our worship follows the liturgical seasons and lectionary texts. Our congregation has beloved annual events and programs. Families sit at the same tables every Wednesday night. However, the group that might be the most dedicated to maintaining “the way it’s always been” is the youth group.
Rites of passage like back-to-school events and senior banquets mark the transitions of middle school and high school. Camps, retreats and mission trips are full of traditions, rituals and routines. Youth prepare for years to be seniors by thinking continually, “what do I want to share at the fall retreat my senior year?”
Traditions keep us moving. The ability to “copy and paste” allows us to not spend the whole year re-creating the wheel. Our congregations know what to except and how to prepare. Youth see their lives through their participation in the Body of Christ. Yet, doing the same thing year after year can lead us to be unable to notice when our current practice no longer matches the original intention. Should we look closer, sometimes our current practices implicitly teach a message that goes against the good news we preach.
It is during those times that theology matters. We are ministers, not simply program directors. We are called to make sure that our ministries are not just structures through which content reaches people. Our ministries teach. Our ministries form. Our ministries preach.
ChurchWorks invites you to join us at First Baptist Church in Decatur, Ga. February 23-25 to hear the call to shift our practices so that our ministry supports the message we proclaim. Over these three days, take the opportunity to step back to look at the big picture. Through Andrew Root’s guidance, let us wonder together – how might our ministries themselves preach the good news so that the words from the pulpit articulate what the congregation is already experiencing to be true? You matter. Your work matters. Theology matters.
Carol Harston serves as Minister to Youth at Highland Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky.
Register for ChurchWorks through Feb. 15 at http://www.cbf.net/churchworks/.