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In a Pandemic, Youth Workers are “Essential Workers”

In the 1920’s, after the Great War and the Spanish Flu Pandemic, Gertrude Stein, the mentor and patron of Ernest Hemingway, referred to youth as “the lost generation.“[i] A century later as youth are faced with a new pandemic, the world is at risk of another lost generation; one where the global youth sub-culture is defined by despair, discord, and disillusionment caused by the seismic cultural shock of COVID-19 and the resulting social tremors to come. In this social pandemic, societies must view youth workers – from mental health providers to youth pastors to community center directors – as essential workers (not that I’m suggesting they should ignore distancing or ‘shelter in place’ orders, but that their jobs are more important than ever). Before we can comprehend the magnitude of this statement, a few words about culture are in order.

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Pivoting in a Pandemic: Five Shifts in Global Youth Ministry

In the uncertain times ahead, I believe global youth ministry is being presented with at least five pivotal opportunities to shift how we minister to and through youth. At every level – from local church ministers to denominational and social movement influencers – God is stirring significant shifts in the world of youth ministry as ministers adapt to the crisis brought on by the Coronavirus. As Colin Piper, Youth Commissioner of the World Evangelical Association, recently shared, “It’s a surreal season where on the one hand everything has come to a stop and on the other, things are developing at breakneck speed.” In my work with youth ministers around the globe, I’ve noticed five pivots amidst this pandemic.

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The “Un-glory” and Glory of Short Term Missions

“I hope some teams  will never come back again.”  These words were spoken by my new senior pastor, a 26-year career missionary who joined our church staff last year.  He said these words last April during training for our short-term mission teams. After a lifetime in the mission field as well as leading various international mission organizations where he’d welcomed teams from all over the world, these words were most profound to me.

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Leading Through Personal Trials

Leading Through Personal Trials

By Adam Mashni

Cartel note: Adam Mashni was one of five youth workers who gave a 5 – 7 minute ‘soapbox’ talk in the Saturday morning main session of the Middle School Ministry Campference a couple weeks ago. We loved what these people talked about, and thought they would make great blog posts for others to access their thoughts. 

On May 8, 2014 I was told I most likely had Testicular Cancer.  I went in for a referral appointment to essentially push aside any extreme worries.  Within 10 seconds the urologist said, “this doesn’t feel good.”  That night I went in for emergency surgery to remove my left testicle.  My life, everything about it, was put on pause (and I also started leaning a little…too soon?). A few days later I would find out it is indeed cancer and it had spread to my abdominal lymph nodes and my lungs.  I was to be married on August 8, 2014…so the 3 months leading up to my wedding was full of Chemo treatments and doctor appointments.

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Ten Truths about Dating as a Single Woman in Ministry

i_cant_even-faintingLet’s talk about my dating life for a minute. I say a minute, because that’s about all it will take.

I will preface this list with: You can’t make this stuff up.

  1. Male youth ministers think it’s appropriate to hit on you. Sometimes they use pickups that are spiritual in nature. One man messaged me on Facebook and quickly began talking about how in his spiritual upbringing, women were really celebrated in leadership; therefore, he was really turned on by strong women in ministerial positions. Huh.
  2. People are always trying to set you up. During a meet-and-greet at my first church as director, a mom tried to set me up with her child who just went away to college the week before. How is that okay?! One time an older man told me that I was “ripe” and that he was going to try to “get me some.” Like… I can’t even…
  3. Most guys are super intimidated. As a Millennial, my generation is trying to figure out our faith as it is. But to date a minister–a person would ask how could I be worthy of that? Most men, when they hear my occupation, don’t fully grasp what that means, or get freaked and dart. The guys who do have their act together spiritually may be more conservative, and not as accepting about women in leadership.
  4. The line of “missionary dating” is fuzzy. I grew up with a list of characteristics for my future husband, and decided I would never meander from them. However, that list is kind of unrealistic, which begs the question: Do I date a man who maybe needs some work?  Or do I hold out for the ideal? Does this ideal exist? Can I use my woman powers of manipulation to get the guy I want from a guy who’s available? Yikes.
  5. We don’t necessarily want to date pastors. This is confusing, because on one hand I would like a guy to have theological training—or at least be well read and conversed. But I didn’t sign up to be a pastor’s wife. I’m called to be a minister, not to marry one.
  6. Meeting other single people is tough. Honestly: where do I go to meet other single people my age? It’s tough just making friends—especially as a young adult—but a boyfriend? If you have the answer to that, you could make a fortune.
  7. Online Dating is (almost a necessary) mess. In our culture where meeting people is tough, most single people I know have tried online dating. It’s no longer taboo. Even people in their early twenties are trying it out!  The hard part is that our culture is extremely seasoned at giving false impressions online, and oftentimes online dating can become more of a disappointment than a decent experience.
  8. The ministry schedule does not allow for easy dating. A friend texted me a few weeks ago, “I just went on my first date in five years.” This friend of mine is very cute and very normal. Then she said, “It’s been a week and I already don’t think it’s going to work out.” Why is that? Because to expect a guy to fit into my ministry time schedule is hard.  Wait, you want to see me more than twice a month?  Sorry, but I work all day on Sunday, so I can’t meet your family. I work one, sometimes two, weekends a month, so there goes a few of our date nights. I don’t understand why you don’t want to date me…
  9. Being single isn’t always my choice.  Some days, especially after an atrociously awkward date, I feel like being single is the easier choice.  But I’m getting to a point where it really hurts sometimes.  Many of my friends and I talk about the terrible baby fever we have. We’ve even joked about adoption—and by joked I mean seriously entertained the idea. The truth is that it aches at times. But I have a cat to help with that.
  10. I don’t have a ton of time on my hands because I’m single. Yes, my Netflix patterns could be a little worrisome, but that’s after working two retreats two weekends in a row. And like I’ve already said–how am I supposed to develop healthy relationships if I spend so much of my time doing ministry? Don’t overload my plate because I’m single. I should have the same rights and privileges as any other person in ministry, whether they are male or female, single or married, parent or not.

During this season of life, I have chosen to treat my singleness as a gift in some aspects. But, I don’t want to stay single forever.

So, if you’re reading this as a single person, let’s collaborate and support each other (but that isn’t code for date each other).

And if you’re reading this as a married person, male or female, I ask that you be advocates for us single people. Our lives revolve around ministering to your family, and we would appreciate the same—even if our family is a party of one.

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We’re one… but we’re not the same

Frontrunner - Women in Youth Ministry Campference

Frontrunner - Women in Youth Ministry CampferenceOn the women in youth ministry Facebook group, I asked the ladies what their first association was with ‘women in youth ministry’. To be honest, I had expected answers along the lines of ‘struggle’, or ‘loneliness’. Instead, some women replied that they were more worried about having too many female leaders in the/their church.

It reminded me once again of the diverse positions of women in youth ministry. Some of us do struggle, with being accepted for instance. With getting treated as an equal to men. With finding a position that befits our calling and spiritual gifts.

But that’s certainly not the case for everyone. A few women responded that they were grateful to be in a church where women leaders were the most normal thing in the world.

Women in youth ministry. We’re one, but we’re not the same. We’re sisters in Jesus Christ, but we come from different places, backgrounds and walks of life. We’re in different churches, roles, places in our lives. Yet we get to carry each other.

As we count down to the Women in Youth Minstry Campference in April 2015, we want to share some of our stories with you and with each other. We long to get to know each other, learn from each other and encourage each other.

If you have a story to share, we’d love to publish it on this blog! Just contact us through the contact form.

p.s. The Early Bird deadline for a discounted registering to the Women in Youth Ministry Campference is coming up fast. Reserve your spot today!