breaking tradition...

How many youth ministers deal with this; coming into a church and having to deal with traditions of the church and youth minister that was there before you? I have been thinking a lot about this lately. I just came into a new church about 6 months ago, and I have loved every minute. Sometimes you can come into a well oiled machine and it work out fine. Other times, you can sit down and put your hands on your head and cry because you can't break the walls down and you don't want to.

In my experience in youth ministry, and being a former active youth participant, I can see how tradition is a good thing. It can be good for a few reasons:
1. Traditions help carry us over and lead students to attend and keep a steady number coming through the doors of the church.
2. It helps youth ministers because they plan less. All you have to do is plug in and play.

These are only a few ways that being a traditional youth ministry is good. However, I see a lot of issues that come with being a traditional youth ministry.

As many youth pastors know, when you come in and you start you want to leave your mark on the ministry. I did this at a previous church. I scrapped all I knew that was the youth ministry and told people that I had to build this group from the ground up. I also told people that I was the one that was going to be changing things for the better, I was going to things that this group had never seen before. Do you see what is wrong with these statements? There is I too many times in these statements. I have said some of these same statements at my new church as well.

God has humbled me. Sometimes, it is my experience that we need to let go of ourselves and let God be the head of our ministries. God will break down walls, He did at Jericho. God will bring new traditions. We need to have a crock pot state of mind. Put things in the pot to make it good, give it some time, and soon enough it will be ready to eat and it will taste good.

That is my blueprint. I am about to start summer programming. I am going to work on relational ministry this summer. I am REALLY going to work on my relationship with God and I am asking Him to do things to this youth ministry AND MY CHURCH that we could never have imagined. Things will fall into place and soon enough, it will taste so good.

What are some traditions that you struggle with in your youth ministry? Are you struggling to rip out the trees and plant new ones? What lessons have you learned from breaking certain traditions that meant so much to the youth ministry?

Just remember this, even though we go through struggles after the honeymoon, God is still in control....if you let Him. He went through the same things we did, suffered first, and died for us to help us live new life. The new life will also come with our crock pot thinking.


Roodman said...

Great post. Tradition is tough to break. I generally say one of the biggest problem in church is not failure it is success. When something has happened for such a long period it takes on a life of its own and history often becomes revisionist and we can't kill it because it has become something greater than itself.

My advice is to make slow changes and be careful what mountains of history you are willing to die on. I've tried to kill things before without a good enough reason why and it has gone poorly.

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