You don't know me. I'm okay with that. This is my search for insignificance.
Monday, May 26, 2014
Ministry Monday: Youth Pastors Are Missionaries?
We have all seen them. They stand out like a sore thumb. But they stand out for a reason. I am talking about missionaries.
You may have known them before they left for the mission field. You may have even prayed over them in a special service just before they boarded a plane for some distant country and culture. They looked like you, dressed like you, ate at similar restaurants.
But upon their visit back stateside, you are wondering what happened. Guest speaking at your church, you see them wearing clothing native to the mission field. They are teaching yo strange sounding vocabulary and possibly introducing you to new foods.
This is not the same person. They're odd. (Disclaimer: I don't think missionaries are odd. I am saying some people, other than me, might think you're odd. If you're a missionary, don't shoot the messenger. In fact, I know the first missionary who will comment about this post to me.)
When missionaries are odd and speak the language or act like the natives they work with, nobody says a word. That's what we want them doing. We pray for them and support them with our money and hold weekend events focused on them for a reason. We want them to succeed. To reach another culture, you have to find a common ground. That often means fitting into their culture. You don't lose your identity, but who you are grows into something more than it was before you arrived.
Being different from our culture is what we expect. We'd think them to be uncaring and certainly unsuccessful if they didn't learn how to integrate into the culture they were preaching the Good News to. So why do think it odd when a youth pastors fits in well and communicates well with teens?
I'm not advocating irresponsibility, but should we expect the youth culture to connect with anyone that looks like he comes from another land? Don't we also wish success on these pastors to our youth? I know people pray for me, so this is not a personal rage against the machine. I seek to encourage.
Youth pastors... Go into the mission field to which you have been called, integrating yourself until they see that you care. Become one with them so they can hear your voice and connect it to Jesus. Do your best to be the interpreter of youth language.
Church people... Lift these youth pastors up in prayer. Come alongside them and ask how you can help them. Look past their oddities (like you might a missionary) and thank God for people who choose to sacrifice normalcy for youth ministry.
Oh, I have one more thought. Does anyone ever ask a missionary when they're going to become a real pastor? If not, then I think you know what question to youth pastors has to go as well.