Pretend I nailed this to the door

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My 9.5 Theses of Youth Ministry

1. Youth should be active in any role that an adult has in the church. Too often we relegate youth to doing cute things like bell ringing and extinguishing candles. If they’re old enough, we let them help in the nursery. I see no reason why kids and youth can’t greet and usher and read during church. They also can pray and do childrens’ sermons, contribute to newsletters, be on committees or whatever else adults do in the life of the church. Age should not be a barrier to roles youth are qualified or would be passionate about filling.

2. The behavior of kids at church or in the building is not solely the responsibility of the youth ministry director. As it turns out, I’m not the only one who pledged to help raise baptized infants in the faith. I’m not the only one who can lovingly correct behavior or spiritually feed youth and children. Help. P.S. I’m never going to yell at a kid who shows up to youth group wearing a hat indoors. If that’s important to you, you correct it. I’m just glad kids (hatless or hatted) show up for youth group at all.)

3. If the church has a fellowship hall or kitchen/dining room, it should be the most used spaced in the church. I get that a lot of families don’t take time to eat at tables together, but as a church, can we? Couldn’t we share what we have and gather around the tables to talk about our day and our lives, nourishing relationships as we nourish our bodies? And I don’t expect the old ladies to cook every meal. We don’t need casserole/hot dish. We should potluck regularly because it’s so beautifully symbolic of the body of Christ– each brings their specialty and we share.

4. Let’s quit talking about how church should be a safe place and let’s make it a real representation of Christ. Jesus wasn’t very safe. Look at who he hung out with (literally at the end) by choice. That means we don’t ignore issues out of politeness, we don’t walk on eggshells to preserve egos but we work to make each other better and we prioritize serving God.

5. We all should pray more.

6. Forget style of worship, how about an attitude of worship? Really it shouldn’t matter if we’re singing the same praise chorus for the 20th time (I could sing of your love forever… and I’m going to prove that right now) or a slow plodding organ accompanied hymn (that rugged cross is OLD). What if we tried to worship God with more of our lives than an hourish on a Sunday morning?

7. Church should not be a marketplace unless you’re selling me girl scout cookies, butter braids or the best trail mix in the world. (I’m looking at you boy scouts, with your over priced popcorn. Yuck.)

8. Church can take place outside of our building, too. Turns out you don’t have to be in the sanctuary to have church. And it turns out God hears what you say and sees what you do wherever you are. If we lived like that, we’d be a better representation of Christ to the world. (We’d get more Christmas presents because Santa watches, too.)

9. I wish the church was capable of grand gestures of love to people both in the congregation and outside of it. Let’s buy a reliable car for the family down the street that had theirs repossessed by the bank. Let’s go on a spree of leaf raking, even if we might risk offending someone by asking if they need help. Let’s care for the poor, let’s risk some of ourselves and our stuff for others who need it. Let’s do irresponsible things to show how irresistible God’s love can be.

9.5 Let’s relax a little, too. Maybe have a sense of humor and not take everything at face value. I was kidding. Santa doesn’t care if you’re good or not. And boy scout popcorn is delicious, I’m sure.

About SaraBSutter

I serve as the pastor of United Presbyterian Church in Goldfield, Iowa. My husband Steve and I are excited to be in a friendly small town and look forward to the years ahead. In addition to nerdy church stuff, I love reading books, writing, good coffee, cats, and football.

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