Blog/CYM Blog/Job

Chaos, Hope, and the Parish Staff

It was the night of our fall semester kickoff. The core team was gathered, the name tags were out, and the Pokémon were hidden at various “Pokéstops” throughout the facility. One last prayer, one last deep breath, and the glass doors were opened to the chaos that is junior high ministry.

Within moments, our hall was overflowing with 60 middle schoolers. All of them bursting with energy and excited to see what we had in store for the year.

As the awkwardness wore off, the youth broke into their small groups for the night, participated in a few get to know you activities, and created a Pokémon of their very own. But that was just the warm up. The night truly began when those first scavenger hunt clues were handed out. Before you knew it, envelopes were being ripped opened, clues were being read, and the groups were sent out to find as many Pokémon as possible with the hopes of being crowned champion Pokémon trainers of Edge.

Sixty youth sprinted from Pokéstop to Pokéstop, working with one another to decipher the clues, encouraging each other not to give up, and celebrating with one another as they reached their final destination is a youth ministry dream. I left the Edge Night feeling like I was on cloud nine, overwhelmed by God’s love. In that moment, I could not think of a single thing that would be able to take away from the success of the night.

What I Didn’t Realize

That high came crashing down the next morning as I walked through the doors of our office and was immediately bombarded by the staff. “Painter’s tape was left on the foot of a statue.” “Signs were left leaning up against a wall.” “Maintenance staff had to work overtime to clean the bathrooms.” During the conversation, which was more like a scolding from an upset parent to a misbehaved child, not a single staff member asked how the Edge night went. They didn’t ask how the kids enjoyed the scavenger hunt or how the Core Team was holding up after such a long and strenuous night. They didn’t even ask how I was doing after pouring hours upon hours into that event. Instead, they reprimanded me for procedures that were broken and warned me not to let it happen again.

I left the office that day feeling discouraged and reevaluating my ministry. According to the staff, our program would be successful if we had all the youth of the parish piling into a room where they listened to a lecture while taking notes in a journal, making sure not to disturb anyone or anything. This is not ministry. Ministry is messy and challenging. Ministry is building community, deepening relationships and learning about yourself, all while growing in a relationship with Christ. Ministry is a team effort, and in order for the program to be successful, the staff needs to have a consistent and Christ centered mission.

Ministry is Beautifully Messy

The reality is, tape can easily be taken down, paint can be redone, and overtime can be paid if necessary. These things shouldn’t take precedence over the spirituality of the youth of a parish. When the entire staff realizes this and comes together to truly invest in a program, ministry will flourish. This is our mission. It’s time we make it happen.

Yes, it is hard and sometimes staff won’t understand. We may get scolded but it can’t take away from our mission. We must be prepared to bring our staff along on the journey, help them understand, and challenge them without compromising on our mission and method. We are here to lead middle schoolers closer to Jesus, never lose sight of that mission. It is a glorious one.

Editor’s Note: This blog is written by an anonymous youth minister.

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