It always comes up. In conversations around my friends at the seminary, as everyone this time of year is trying to sort out what we're going to be doing next, and many of my friends are desperately searching for jobs, the question is almost always asked:

Why would you want to do youth ministry?

People have a hard time believing that I would enjoy dodgeball (I do), and week long mission trips sleeping on concrete floors (I do), and all night sleepless lock-ins (a little less, but still I do). When you look at youth ministry from the outside, it is easy to only see the goofy, only see the wacky, only see the fun. To be sure, there is a lot of goofy, wacky, and fun. But what I think separates a good youth ministry from a great youth ministry everything that happens in between the fun stuff. It's where students get real about their faith with God. It's where students open up and share what God is doing in their lives. It's about reading the word of God, as a lens through which to understand the action of God around us every day. It is, whether we put this label on it or not, contemplative.

In this series on prayer, we are examining how prayer looks at different age levels through the church. To be contemplative, to reflect on God, is to engage in this three point cycle:

Observe God's Action-->Reflect on God's Action-->Respond to God's Action

Now, this may not at first look a whole lot like prayer. But the reality of it is that this represents a different kind of prayer life, one in which God is the central figure, not our hopes and dreams and desires. Instead of praying for a better grade on a test, when we're in this cycle of reflecting on God's action, when we're being contemplative, our prayer is more and more that God would be revealed to us. We want to see where God is at work in our lives, and prayer is the language through which we communicate with God the whole way through.

There are of course tips and tricks for how to engage in this kind of contemplative life, and again it is not limited only to youth ministry. But in the weeks that are coming up, we're going to look at the practices of The Daily Lectionary, The Jesus Prayer and The Prayer of Examine as means to dive deeper into this reflective life. Because youth ministry of course is deeper than throwing dodgeballs and staying up all night. Youth ministry is about discovering who we are by understanding who God is, and that happens in the fine art of contemplation.

blog comments powered by Disqus