Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Youth Ministry Working Group....and hope.

So the additions to the Youth Ministry Working Group were announced today. Six more youth and two youth advisors have been added to the team who have been charged with a imagining a new framework for UU youth ministry.

I'm glad. I mean, I think that these are the primary stake holders involved in the change. We're all stake holders because youth ministry is vital to healthy congregations and a healthy denomination. And of course youth and youth advisors probably know what needs to happen with an intimacy that the rest of us just don't have.

I'm hopeful. But also, I'm glad it's not me on that working group. I mean, I've been a DRE trying to rebuild a youth group or really to build a youth group in a small congregation. I've been a youth group advisor because no one else would do it. And I loved it, I really loved it don't get me wrong. Teenaged UUs are even more amazing than adult UUs. I don't regret one second of the time I put in.

But what exactly can the UUA do to support us on a congregational level? Can they drive the carpool that picks up all the youth and drops them off again? Can they buy their favorite Good Earth Tea, and fruit leather and the big packs of fun candy and the pub mix with the little rye crackers? Can they stay up all night at the sleepovers? Can they haul a van full of taco makings for the homeless teen feed that the youth committed to?

That's what it took for me to build a youth group. Time, tears, long-long phone calls from parents when things were hard. Long phone calls from teens in trouble. It took a person committed to them, and willing to take the weeks when no one showed up and the half hour drive was to then clean the office instead of run youth group. But I'm not sure how anything the UUA can offer us will support that.

I know that ministry to and with youth is more than the youth group. And I've worked for the past six months to ready the board and the rest of leadership at the church I serve to welcome the youth into the full life of the congregation. I'm hoping for youth lay leaders, and youth membership committee members, and youth running social action and youth doing everything they're interested in. But it takes heroic amounts of time and commitment to even begin to have that become a reality. How can the UUA help with that? Education on a national level, yep, that would help, but just a little, I think.

Maybe they'll find a magic wand, or an elf that comes in and makes it all lovely and integrated and good, solid, congregationally based ministry to and with youth. I hope so!

So, I'll promise to support what they come up with and to work hard to make it happen and make the most of it. And I'll send my son off to Boston in a couple of weeks, because he's one of those additional youth named to that YMWG, and I know he's got a good sense of what it will take, and I'm sure he'll explain it to me, and maybe he'll explain it to all of us out here. I'm wildly proud of him, and I really, really hope that they come up with something amazing.

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