I first saw the above article on an acquaintances page last week and it struck a chord within me. I would encourage you to read the article first before you read the rest of this blog so you’ll understand where I’m going with this. For the longest time I’ve had the question in my head of at what point do I either become irrelevant as a youth worker or at what point is it just not worth being in youth ministry. Let me first state that I have never doubted my call to youth ministry. I may have doubted the form and function, but I’ve always known that my calling was to work in youth ministry in some form or fashion; and I’ve done that. I’ve done almost every form of youth work known to man: church based, at risk, para church, camp, AWANA, if there was a form of youth ministry, I tried to be a part of it. But there comes a time when a person has to seriously consider a transition to something else. With my current situation I find myself questioning if it’s time for me to move on to something else, maybe it’s best for me to seek to minister in other ways and not be a part of youth work. I can honestly say I’ve recently felt paranoid in my dealing with youth over the past couple of years. I remember in the 90’s when I was with Thomas Road Baptist Church that it was a pretty common thing for me to to go with a bunch of teenagers to Fazoli’s restaurant after youth group on Sunday night or Wednesday night and just hang out and talk, and it was no big deal. It would usually be coed, and I always made sure that any females that went had a ride home that didn’t include me and her in the car alone. It was during this point when I adopted a policy that I would do my best to never be alone with a female teen under the age of 18 unless there was a personal relationship with the family and the mom and dad knew and we were only going from point A to point B. That policy has been fairly effective because to be honest, there are very few parents I actually establish a close relationship with, because when I say close, I mean almost like family. In today’s atmosphere, I have to be honest, I’m not sure if I would do that again. Have I done it? Yes, there have been a couple times this past summer I went out with a bunch of teens out to eat or to the store. It was usually limited to our week long Lift Camp time or the few times I went with the Youth Pastor and the youth band out to dinner between band practice and wednesday night small groups. As far as me initiating an invitation after church to kids to go hang out, well, I don’t do that anymore because I’m honestly scared of outside perceptions of a 40 something adult with teenagers. To be honest it’s almost not worth connecting with teenagers anymore because of the complications involved. If I’m constantly looking over my shoulder or constantly questioning if I’m out of bounds or scared that I’ve crossed a line, then maybe it’s time for me to transition to something else. I’ll be honest I look back at some of my interactions recently and I see that, generally speaking, while I’ve not behaved inappropriately, maybe some of my connections were too close. At the same time, isn’t that what youth ministry is about? Connecting within a certain set of boundaries. This is just me thinking out loud publicly, and I haven’t made a final decision, but it’s something that’s on my mind and something I’m praying about. If I do decide that it’s time to transition out, then my next question is: What do I transition to? Is there something out there that excites me and fires me up like youth ministry does? I’m also seeking answers to church involvement. Is it time to seek something/someplace other then where I’m at? Who knows. No church is perfect, after all it’s filled with people, and we’re all flawed, imperfect people who make mistakes and fail at stuff, but the question becomes one of fit and freedom. Do I feel like my church is a fit for me and do I feel like I have freedom to serve and worship? Those are questions I’ve been asking myself the past 8 weeks of what was supposed to be a two week ministry break. I’ll be honest, I don’t have the answers to these questions yet, but I’m sure God will give me direction and answers at some point. I’d welcome opinions and comments (constructive and appropriate of course).