Monday, January 25, 2010

    Volunteers No Longer Needed

    Each year, the church I currently serve has both baby dedications and baptisms (for teenagers). Over time, I have started to view these events as a rite of passage—both for the participant and the congregation. The congregation is asked if they will help raise this child and guide them in the Christian faith. Such questions take seriously the notion that as a community of faith we are all required to help raise disciples of Christ.

    But all too often it is only a small group of individuals who work with our children and youth. For the past several weeks, I’ve been rethinking the notion of what it means to have volunteers in youth ministry.

    What if we no longer had volunteers, but instead focused on spiritual mentors. Spiritual mentors, from all ages and spectrums of life, could be with our youth through all of the years that they are growing up in church. What would it look like to have a spiritual mentor as someone who participated in the entire spiritual formation and Christian education of our youth?

    Spiritual mentors could: be present at rites of passage in the church, pray for our youth on a regular basis, accompany and be present on mission trips, summer camps, and retreats, and even just be present in Sunday School or youth group.

    How would your church respond if you put this headline in the church newsletter with an accompanying article: Volunteers No Longer Needed


    Danielle Hawes said...

    Since I tend to work with the girls in a youth group, I have often wanted to develop some sort of program that incorporates this very idea of spiritual mentors.

    I can only imagine the impact that would have for both the student and the mentor.

    Joel Mayward said...

    Ideally, the spiritual mentors would have to commit to the church and student for their entire lives, from childhood to early adolescence and even into adulthood. Perhaps those spiritual mentors are already in place: parents. Take the third and fourth paragraphs of this post and replace "spiritual mentors" with "parents" and it paints a remarkable picture of discipleship.

    Marie said...

    In some church's these mentors already exist as Godparents. Unfortunately, not everyone who commits to the role view it as it was meant to be and treat it more as a symbolic gesture rather than taking active participation in the faith development of the child.

    Randy said...

    I have been aware for some time that young people having a mentor seems fairly common in African American churches. A source for learning more?

    Here at Speedway Christian Church our 6th graders go through a school-year-long program called Journey in Faith which leads up to baptisms at Easter. Each 6th grader has a mentor for a few months of that program. The relationship often continues in some lighter fashion for years afterward.

    Brenda! said...

    At my church we are already there. Not that I ever published the line "Volunteers No Longer Needed." We did a complete reboot of the youth ministry which included parents involved with everything. That gave me bodies for chaperoning, drivers, plus their combined wisdom. I also purposely bring in other adults from the church family to do short-term things with the youth. The fruit so far is our teens are more comfortable around all of the adults of the church. They also realize they are valued by the church. We've been doing this for 9 years now and I'm still amazed that when I approach these respected and wise adult members of our church family that they say yes--often without hesitation and consider it an honor. This is the culture we have purposely created and our teens and church are better for it.

    By the way, love your blog. Do not tire in doing good.