Wow. Where to begin. First off, I am sorry to ANYONE I offended. I wrote out of frustration and the vent came across as anger. I have a lot to learn when it comes to ministry but also acting Christ like. I have deleted the posts that have been causing some buzz. I wrote personal attacks on people and companies I always looked up to. Now I am at rock bottom because of the things I said and I am embarrassed about the way I represented Christ (which I didn't) and myself.

To all those I hurt and offended, I am sorry. You read a blog that was unedited and raw. It was written with passion. I would like to take a minute and share my heart if you don't mind reading a little further (trust me there are no more personal attacks).

Youth ministry has been my calling. I have never felt more passionate about ANYTHING in my life. I know this is what God placed me here for. I am sure that there are many of us out there that think and feel the same way. We might only be good at taking orders at Taco Bell or doing youth ministry, so we go the youth ministry route and take students to Taco Bell. My heart beats for reaching students for Christ. It is passion in me.

Over the past few years, my youth ministry ride has taken it's up and downs and its plateaus. It has been a ride that only Christ can make happen and I wouldn't change a thing. Recently, I let the world grab a hold of me, and let my emotions boil and explode under pressure before I really knew what I was doing. My blog normally brings 50 people...if that. I was expecting 80 people to read the post. Over the past 48 hours my blog has had over 1400+ views. There has been discussion and mostly in the fact that my vent came across as angry and vindictive. The vindictive and personal attacks were true, I did write that and I can't justify the reason why. The anger issue is wrong. It was frustration.

My whole goal is to do two things: I want to open up the "debate" about youth ministry moving to a family ministry model. I also want to help find a voice (which obviously won't be mine) for the smaller churches in the youth ministry world. Sometimes we can see how Saddle Back (as an example) and other big churches do youth ministry and we try to emulate it. We have gone commercial with our programming and we sometimes, and I am guilty of this, get lazy. We spend a lot of time on xbox and other forms of entertainment and kind of let the others do our work for us.

I think that the turn in youth ministry should be about community. Right now, I am on the outside looking in from my recent posts, but we need to look outside our windows. We see houses or streets with students walking by each day. This is another opportunity to reach a student and to be the image of Christ. We need to quit relying on the church to fill our ministry, and let God fill it with the spirit first, discipleship, evangelism and from there to reach out break barriers of race, financial status and language. We, as youth leaders, should be looking at community. However, I want to know what others think.
Do you feel we should move to a family ministry model? How do you see youth ministry going? Do you feel smaller churches have a voice in helping determine that factor?

This was the intent of my previous blog posts, which have since been deleted. I am sorry that I took a vindictive, talking head approach. In the end, I caused little discussion about the issue and brought only hurt and lost credibility. In the end, no matter my "status" as a youth ministry all star or not, I only care about honoring Christ. I failed miserably at that and I am sorry all those I hurt and I missed a HUGE opportunity to help raise awareness in a Christian manner. Again, I am sorry.


Chris Heiden said...

My church did a family topic last year and I think it is a very important topic. When you look at stock photos online or the precut ones in the picture frames, do you ever see teenagers in it? No, they are always of young children or older. This is because teenagers, the ones in youth are the most disconnected from our families. This needs to change.

There is a sense of rebellion when you get to those teen years. This year for our youth retreat, we invited families to come along and experience the trip with the youth. It was not only great to see mended relationships that some families did not have before, but those have kept carrying over to today.

Youth in a way does need to be a family ministry. I hear every week about how people do not care about their parents and their parents do not care about them. Something needs to be done to keep these families together and serving Christ as one unit.

Just my two cents. :)

Andrea Ward said...

I found your blog through Carl at I'd Laugh...But All This Happened to Me. I did not read the first post and if what we are doing moving forward is a discussion then I don't need to read it.

My husband is the youth pastor at our small church. Neither he nor I have a degree in religion. (He's working on one, but that's a different story.) He doesn't even have that much experience going to youth as a kid. I know there are things we have messed up on and I know there are things we could do better, but many times I'm really glad we don't pay attention to any of these 'trends'. I think each church and each youth group is different, especially in a smaller church. Some teens do need to repair a relationship with a parent and others need to be taught that Jesus loves them and let them go from there. If we as youth leaders are now being asked to repair family relationships as well, then I think we will be less effective overall. If we know our youth, then we know the ones who we can help to repair a relationship and which ones need to know Jesus loves them.
Any trend in ministry, as with education (I'm also a teacher.) will never fit everyone. We need to make sure that we are doing what we can where we are. Just a few thoughts from me.
Thanks for bringing the issue to my attention.

Amanda Cash said...

Thanks for your honesty and openness in posting this. I'm not sure if the posts you are referring to are the posts that I read, and we conversed about a little bit, but either way, admitting mistakes and moving forward shows maturity and Christlikeness. God knows that I mess up all the time, and have to backtrack. The important thing isn't that we mess up, but that we are willing to recognize it and move forward. It's tough and humbling--but people will respond well when you are transparent! Be encouraged, brother!!

As far as the trend toward family ministry, as with everything, I think balance is the appropriate response! While we know that ministry geared specifically toward teens is necessary, and great, we also know that too much of that means we isolate teens from the rest of the body of Christ (and we isolate the rest of the people from the teens). This creates discomfort and a sense of "where do I go now?" when teens graduate from high school and therefore youth ministry. A holistic approach to ministry is key for any youth pastor or leader--not that it should necessarily be the youth pastor's job to "fix" the family, but that certainly we should be aware and able to help and speak into their lives.

Anonymous said...

Can you share how you define family and youth ministry models? I'm not sure I always know what you are referring to. What are the unique characteristics of each why would the family model be of concern?

Howie Snyder said...
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Howie Snyder said...

Mark, I appreciate your brokenness and humility in this post. I didn't read the post you're referring to, but I have certainly wrote things online that I later regretted and was embarrassed about, so I know how that feels. So may God's grace and mercy wash over you through all of this, brother.

On this particular issue, I see both sides. Your comments remind me of the excellent article by Mark Cannister from several years ago, "Back to the Future of Youth Ministry" (found here: http://www.gci.org/church/youth/cannister). However, most of the churches I've been at, I've had to struggle just to reach my own youth. I ascribe to the "Inside-Out" approach to youth ministry, also seen in the SonLife Youth Ministry model with the idea of developing a base of discipleship with your youth and then challenging and sending them out to reach their friends. The problem is that it seems every church I go to, there seems to be NO discipleship in the homes and the children seem to just most likely turn out to be like their parents, living apathetic nominal Christian lives! Or worse! So it seems to me that I would have a far better impact on our church youth if I ignored trying to reach them and instead focused on their parents! In reality, I see this as a church-wide discipleship problem. I feel that if the church would do it's job discipling the adults and parents, then I could focus on doing more of what Cannister talks about in his article and have more direct work on outreach to other youth. So I certainly resonate with some of your comments there with community stuff and all.

Speaking of community ministry, I'm excited to look into Adam McLane's new curriculum: http://theyouthcartel.com/products/good-news-in-the-neighborhood-a-6-week-curriculum-for-groups/

Howie Snyder said...
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Howie Snyder said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rob said...

Hey Mark... I forgive you!
Always remember to NEVER write anything when you're frustrated! Once the words are out, you can't get them back in. "Eat it before you tweet it".

I've made this same mistake before, sometimes we have to learn the hard, ugly, way.

Appreciate your humility in seeing your mistake and acknowledging it!

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