The Danger of Written Words

I am very grateful to Matt Tapie for pulling me into blogworld back in June. I’ve discovered a medium to gather my thoughts and share them with friends who help sharpen, shape and re-envision. However there is a danger that we’ve all witnessed at different times. Perception.

My recent post on the Theology of Youth Trips was intended to be a piece about the state of youth ministry in the church and the need to carefully evaluate the things we do and do not do. Unfortunately it seems that some people have taken this as a slight against Skillman Church of Christ. Most people reading this will know that I have served as the youth minister at Skillman since January of 2003 and was recently let go, along with others, for budget reasons.

It was suggested that the opening thoughts were a slight against my friend Dwight. Just so that everyone is aware, the first section of my previous post was intended as a tongue-in-cheek statement highlighting why people could probably come to the conclusion that I don’t like youth ministry. I don’t like that stuff and lots of people associate those things with youth ministry – I’m not saying that Dwight does. I do feel called to youth ministry though I’ve told people before and will probably tell people again, I haven’t felt like I’m living up to my calling. If a church wants someone to babysit the children of believers without any real focus on calling them to a serious life of discipleship or attempting to reach new teens with the Gospel – that is not something I’m interested in. Let me be explicit in pointing out that this is not an attempt to jab any particular church.

While some of the camp situations mentioned did describe Skillman, not all did. The reason that I didn’t include church references is that I did not want this to become about any church – so much for that one. The specific issues here are not unusual, and that is why I chose them. This situation could easily be played out in any number of congregations at any given time. My desire is to address our global understandings of youth ministry and church life, not lobby for a particular summer calendar at a particular location.

I would like to publicly apologize to anyone who feels that I was attacking a particular church or individuals. That was never my intention. Please forgive me.

However, I’m afraid that I cannot apologize for my stance on youth ministry…especially not on ski trips. It has been insinuated that this was directed at “rich” kids. No, it wasn’t – it wasn’t directed at kids at all. But it was, and is, meant for the Church (wherever it meets) that is so entrenched in the culture and lifestyle of the wealthy that it would blindly schedule trips that exclude the poor. For the offense of that message I have no apology – Jesus will not permit me. I don’t mean to sound self righteous, who among us is without blame in this area? But for me this is a Gospel issue – it goes to whether or not we are being salt and light.

I’m sure that I’ve only angered more people with these words. If you are mad at what I’m saying about youth ministry, then I can live with that. If you are mad because you still think this has to do with any particular congregation, then you’ll have to live with that. Sorry.

Posted on August 31, 2005, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Bret,
    I’d really like to discuss this with you in person and was wondering also if you wouldn’t mind me using your thoughts as a platform for a post on my blog. You have basically put into words something I have been trying to express for a while, and I really appreciate you for saying what few people out there want to admit. Let me know how I can contact you or contact me through the info I left in my comment on your last post. BTW, this is Hurley

  2. Bret,
    It is true that words are so delicate. I think this post shows great maturity and kindness on your behalf. I do want to commend you though for pointing out the weaknesses of many youth ministry “programs”. We need your voice. Speaking the truth in love is challenging and I encourage you to keep up the good work. God bless,


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