One of the more interesting parts about working at a progressive Christian church that embraces the multi-cultural reality of the pluralistic world that we live in is that there aren’t a ton of places to go to see how other youth ministers are doing it. When you perform a basic google search for “youth ministry” or “youth ministry curriculum” the results page is instantly filled with more traditional (read, evangelical) ideas about what youth ministry is supposed to look like. Sometimes I’m able to sift through the theological differences to find helpful ideas, but other times none of what I find is salvageable.
The fact is, there aren’t a ton of churches like ours that truly and deeply embrace the inclusive value that every youth is not only completely and totally welcome but that they are also completely and totally loved by God for exactly who they are. In other words, our radically inclusive welcome isn’t just about getting someone in the door so that we can “convert” them or “show them the error of their ways”, but rather, it’s about saying to a transgender youth, for example, that God created them and loves them for exactly who they are—that there is nothing wrong or broken about them, but that they are wholly and unconditionally loved by God and this faith community.
Of course, no program exists in a vacuum—All Saints, as an institution, provides a great deal of help and support for our work, and the Episcopal Church (in general) has embraced the radically transforming and inclusive love that defines who we are at this parish. And yet, when it gets down to the details, we are often developing new ways of doing youth work because there are not a ton of resources available to the unique needs of our program.
So, I’m offering this blog as a place to start—a place to start asking the questions of, for example, how to do church in the multi-cultural and pluralistic world that we live in—a place to seek out new ways to embrace the deep and enriching experience of being an inter-faith community while also maintaining our (healthy) identity as Christians. I hope that you find this blog, as we continue to develop it, helpful and enriching—and, if you’re a fellow youth worker, a creative source of inspiration for the program ministry that you lead.