Pastor of Congregational Culture: Your New Role in Youth Ministry

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In our last webinar, Syd Hielema and Lesli VanMilligen challenged us to "pastor the congregational culture."  How do we even begin doing that? From our little youth ministry corner, is it reasonable that we consider ourselves to have that kind of ability?

Have a look at James 3:

When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

If you have a tongue, you have the ability. Yes, as a member of the church, and especially as a leader of your youth ministry, you have the privilege to step into the role of "Pastor of Congregational Culture." It's not glamorous. It doesn't even pay. But it is vitally important that you accept this position. Your job description is short and simple: turn this ship with your tongue.

 I invite you to consider how you currently contribute to the culture in your church and how you could be a "Pastor of Congregational Culture:"

  • Do you align your youth ministry with the vision of your church, or is it "us vs. them"?
  • When you speak to a parent, do you freely share how you see God working in their teen, or persuade them to bring their teen to the next event?
  • Is the "spirit" of your youth ministry vastly different than your church?
  • When you share with the congregation your latest retreat or mission experience, do you share the content and busy schedule and work accomplished, or do you share how God moved and changed lives through the experience?
  • Do you affirm the congregational worship style as authentic and spirit-filled to your teens, or do you label it as flat, outdated and "not how we do it"?
  • Do you regularly and openly share stories to your church's leadership how God is impacting lives through your youth ministry, or is it "no news is good news"?
  • When teens ask about the latest "church issue", do you use the opportunity to step up on your soapbox, or guide them through the facts, present the "sides" well, and allow them freedom to ask questions, acknowledge the brokenness of the church, and the grace generously given to us?

What experiences have you had where you felt what you said to someone in your church helped change the culture, even if only a tiny bit?

In what other ways could you "turn the ship with your tongue?"

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Great post, Marc! I hope that the questions you're asking stir up some prayerful reflection in those who have an opportunity to shift their church culture in the right direction.

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