i graduated from southwestern baptist theological seeminary, a fact that i used to be proud of. now a days i’m not as excited about my alma mater. paige patterson is now the president of southwestern and the changes within southwestern that worry me have happened mainly during his watch. but let’s not talk about those things right now. instead i want to talk about patterson’s “youth ministry” article in the january/february 2005 southwestern news alumni magazine. patterson was once a pastor (i think it was back in the 80s but he was at least once a pastor for a few years) and as such he is expertly trained to write the lead article in a southwestern news volume that is supposed to be all about student ministry.
the title of patterson’s article is “iconoclastic student ministry”. here’s dictionary.com‘s definition of “iconoclastic:
- one who attacks and seeks to overthrow traditional or popular ideas or institutions.
- one who destroys sacred religious images.
- the original iconoclasts destroyed countless works of art.
- characterized by attack on established beliefs or institutions
judging from the title of patterson’s article it is apparently meant to destroy the art of youth ministry. if that’s not his point i would at least guess from the title that he thought that the words of his article would destroy the status quo of youth ministry. who knows? for your reading entertainment i have decided to post his 17 steps for iconoclastic student ministry. i’ll also post a few of my thoughts in italics after his points.
- don’t try to entertain young people all the time – i agree with this one though i love him calling the teens “young people”
- call a man as your minister to youth or youth pastor in charge of youth ministry – patteson thinks its okay for a woman to be an associate but not the person in charge. according to him the leader really needs to be a male – what a load of crap.
- teach young people how to share their faith – i like this one too but i would prefer to show them how to share their faith as a natural, non-forced, non-used car salesman part of their life. JESUS “sells” HIMSELF. he doesn’t need me to force HIM on someone else. HE just wants me to open my mouth and honestly dialogue with people who have real needs. HE will be their answer.
- teach young people basic theology – i love this “young people” stuff. we better teach youth that CHRISTianity is all about believing the right things rather than exploring theology with each other and hitting hard questions. 😉
- chior tours and social projects are worthy activities for young people, but do not make them an end within themselves – patterson says that everything must be judged by wether someone comes to CHRIST or not. apparently feeding the hungry is only GOD honoring when at least one of the hungry people becomes a CHRISTian
- lead your young people to ask GOD about HIS will for their lives
- teach young people the whole biblical revelation – wow, i wish i had thought of this. i wonder which part of “whole” he is really hinting at
- teach the young people what the bible says about sex – sex is the big “no-no” isn’t it? apparently teaching our teens not to have sex it’s more important to patterson than helping them to get involved in “social justice”, or having a growing relationship with CHRIST
- teach young people to love JESUS and GOD’s word the bible – who knew? JESUS and the bible are equal?
- make men out of the boys and women out of the girls – i guess this beats the alternative. i do love the fact that patterson’s idea of a man involves the guy regularly using a gun (a previous article)
- the pastor must spend time with the young people – i agree totally but i would add that the pastor must never ever call them “young people”
- be sure to include parents in the youth ministry equation – i whole heartedly agree
- be sure most of the the young people are in regular services with everyone else in the church – i can’t complain with this one
- teach young people the meaning of sacrifice – no complaint here
- have a regular time for Q&A with your young people, and do not duck their questions – i wonder if one of the questions will be from one of my girls asking me “why is it that GOD has called me to be a minister and paige patterson says i can’t be?”
- keep your sense of humor and have a good time – reading patterson’s article gave me a good laugh
- finally, lead the young people in some great adventures – i agree with another one
as you can see patterson’s article has shaken the foundations of youth ministry as we know it. i only hope i can be half the youth minister that paige patterson is. 🙂