Thursday, January 22, 2009

    NCAA and Youth Ministry

    As youth leaders, part of our ministry is to help our youth live their lives in response to God.  We want our youth to have a safe passage in adolescence, to grow in their spirituality, to find ways to experience and articulate their faith, and to experience their life from the perspective of what it means to be a Christian and claim that we follow Christ.  Through all of this, we have competing cultural norms and critiques.  There is one voice that says:  Be the best you can be and stop at nothing.  And there is the other voice that says:  Take time, slow down, and listen to the voice of God in your life.

    So, how do we find the balance between these two voices?

    The other day, I came across this article.  I can't believe that the NCAA is allowed to begin recruiting "perspective" start athletes at the age of seventh grade.  As leaders in the church, how are we to respond?  A number of my youth are serious athletes, who devote countless hours to sports.  This new rule puts even more pressure on youth.  A part of me wants to say, "This is ridiculous."  But I don't think such rants would lead to productive conversation.  I think a better idea is to have a conversation with our youth (and parents) that focuses on what is important in life and how, among the various activities in our daily schedules, we can take the time to slow down and focus on God?

    What do you think?



    Mike said...

    If anything good can come out of this, maybe it's a lesson to us youth pastors out there that we need to be more purposeful about recognizing students for discipleship earlier. I think all youth ministries should be coordinating with children's ministries to be more effective in their disciple-making.

    Anonymous said...

    I am tired of seeing the souls of young people sucked out by our over ambitious adults that have made sports a god. When an 8th grader is in tears because her coach is mad that she is missing a weekend of practice to go to a church event, we have a problem.

    When did sports become so serious? These kids are playing a game. Aren't games supposed to be fun. I have met very few youth involved in sports that actually enjoy what they are doing.

    "Competition is the opposite of Compassion." - Henri Nouwen.

    Brian said...

    Mike and Livefish - thanks for commenting. I appreciate the quote from Nouwen.

    In my first youth group, we had a church basketball team and the coach, a church member, refused to let the unskilled guys play. Why? Because he wanted to win games, of course! When I explained that all of these boys played on our team because they wouldn't or COULDN'T play on the school team and so he needed to let everyone play and have fun, he took the matter to the senior pastor. The senior pastor supported my viewpoint. In the end, one of the high school boys took over coaching the team -- and everyone got to play every game!