Decisons and the community they thrive in

What I observe at the most effective ministries in America are pastors who have created a culture of jr high leaders around them. Methodist bishop William Willimon wrote: "Decisions are fine. But decisions that are not reinforced and reformed by the community tend to be short-lived." This quote is by Lauren Winner in the NY Times concerning chastity pledges. While the subject matter of the article doesn’t seem to have anything to do with my time in Estes last week the quote itself hits the nail on the head. Bishop Willimon’s quote embodies the final thoughts our group in Estes had concerning the decision process we call students to. If this quote has some merit to it (And I concur wholeheartedly) then how should we as jr high pastors spend our time to make the most impact? For a long time I have pointed to the importance of Student leaders organizing, training and equipping lay workers as a tier one priority. (In quite frank terms I have seen student leaders who can mobilize and train adults have more spiritually significant relationship in their overall programs than Leaders who are gifted at relating one on one with students) I realize that many middle school leaders enjoy their time spent with jr high students one on one. This is where the life change happens as pointed to in the above quote. I am just standing in the middle of all the data we’ve received from Chap’s Hurt and etc . . . thinking; “Hey everybody, lets not just be intentional jr high leaders; let’s also be intentional leaders of communities that invest in jr high students.” If it takes a community to reinforce and reform a student’s decision then shouldn’t we put more of our work week into shaping that community. In practical terms this would mean a good amount of time being spent in calling, training and meeting with volunteer student leaders. We should be just as proactive in building a healthy culture of adults around our students as we spend programming our meeting times. I am almost compelled to say we should spend more time building the atmosphere our students enter into relationally than we do making videos, practicing with worship teams and polishing our talks. Everyone I’m listening to is drawing the same conclusions after analyzing the recent data. What I am wondering is: are we restructuring our time in ministry to get new results?


marko said...

good thoughts, johnny.

Alan Ramsey said...

Johnny, you are right on and I so appreciate your willingness to rethink how we minister to and with jr. highers.