I’ve just returned from the UK where I attended the Youth Work Summit for the third time. And it was absolutely brilliant. I’ll be blogging about it this week to share some of my experiences, but today I want to start by writing a bit about the theme of the conference: Greater.
Youth ministry isn’t easy under any circumstances, but at the moment for many it’s harder than ever. Especially in the UK, where the recession has hit so hard, it’s tough to be in youth ministry. There’s little or no budget for youth work and jobs are being cut left and right leaving many youth workers unemployed or on a salary that’s to low to support themselves.
Young people and their parents are struggling as well with unemployment, cuts in benefits and few opportunities. During the YWS, they showed a short video from a BBC documentary about the staggering amount of kids in the UK that go to school hungry or that have to skip a meal because their parents can’t afford it.
A short drive through West Bromwich, the location of the YWS, showed just how the recession is affecting communities. Closed shops, vandalism, a general feeling of hopelessness. To me, it provided a sharp contrast to the relative affluent part of Germany where I live (Bavaria – it’s called the motor behind the German economy. There’s no recession here, we still experience moderate economic growth).
Who God is
Doing youth ministry under these circumstances is far from easy and can easily lead to youth workers feeling burdened, alone, and hopeless. That’s why the key message of the YWS was so important:
Our God is Greater
We all know this to be true of course, but to know something is different from experiencing it, from living in that reality. But we were all reminded of this crucial truth during the YWS:
No matter the circumstances, our God is greater
One of the speakers was a lady called Celia Apeagyei Collins, who talked about the power of prayer. Again, it’s something that we all know to be true, but that’s much harder to practice. She made her point in a way that I wouldn’t necessarily recommend, but she sure got her message across: she asked us all to hold hands and invite satan to come (major awkward moment by the way!). We refused of course and then she said: of course you don’t want to invite satan, because you know he will come. Then she asked us to pray and ‘offend God’. Again, we refused. Her point: we know God listens, so we don’t want to say stuff like that.
Her key point was this: what do you believe when you pray? We are connected to power when we pray, but do we pray like we are? Our prayers should be driven by need, by passion, by desperation. We have to pray and know that we have nowhere else to go. We need to be persistent and not give up until we’ve got what we came for (Luke 11:5-8).
Another speaker (Kate Middleton whom everyone kept referring to as ‘no, not that one’) summed it up nicely when she said this:
The task ahead of you is never as great as the power behind you
Is that the truth or what? Youth ministry isn’t easy under the best of circumstances and in this economic climate, it can be even more taxing. All we can do then is cling to the truth of who God is and keep praying with passion and persistence.
Our God is greater, our God is stronger, our God is higher than any other. Our God is healer, awesome in power, our God.
How can you make the truth about who God is and how great He is more of a reality from which you do your ministry?