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Last week I had had enough. It was time to dig in and do some hard work. I had been looking at the one fish left surviving in my neglected 30 gallon tank. It was the lone survivor left to its own fate due to a hectic summer and ministry kickoff season (and a little laziness on my part). I decided that it's time to get it back to a place where it looks good and enjoyed again by my family. So, I grabbed the vacuum and glass scrubber, found some fresh filter inserts, and got it sparklingly clean.  Beautiful!

A few days later my son and I headed for the pet store to purchase some new fish.  In no time, five new platies swimming in my refreshed tank, and I was on my way to being a responsible pet owner again. What we hadn't expected was that within a few days, we woke up to find 9 fish fry hiding in the plants and corners of the tank! My neglected tank had once again turned into a healthy and enjoyable focal point of our living room. Everyone in our family stops a few times each day to look at the tank, check on the progress of the fry, and enjoy the peaceful movement within the tank.  

Over the past few years there has been a lot of new ideas creeping into our youth ministry context: family ministry, intergenerational ministry, faith formation initiatives, just to name a few. I am very excited about some of these new approaches to ministry, but if I’m honest with myself I’d rather not deal with them and just continue doing what I've been doing. Things seem to be going well enough in my youth ministry. Students are coming out to programs. Young lives are being transformed. Why fix it if it isn't broken?

Perhaps something that we need to consider is that the "current" in which we are doing youth ministry is changing. As the denomination engages a new model for direction and vision (the Five Streams), the “ecosystem” in which we do our ministry will inevitably change.

What might happen if we as youth workers chose to roll up our sleeves, engage the discussion, and help lead this transition by changing how we do youth ministry? Based on what you know about the “Five Streams model”, what would that even look like? What fears do you have about making changes in your program? What excites you about it?


Fish...I was commissioned to go to the store to buy a small fish bowl with a couple of gold fish, likely to teach my kids about life (and death).  I came back with a rather large salt water aquarium with aspirations of have the great barrier reef in our living room.  It never really happened...and Mark's illustration seemed to resonate with my own youth ministry.  It never really goes as planned.  It might be good, things going well but I would be lying if I thought things always went as planned.  Usually God tends to push things in a direction I wasn't even thinking about.  So I am not sure if it matters about direction, about returning to the status quo or trying out something new - it likely will not go as planned, God will continue to work and do things that we never even thought about and we will likely evaluate our own plans for ministry, reevaluate and try again.  By the way - I sold the fish tank and bought a dog!  Maybe new directions are what is needed...

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