Situation Normal, Part 4

Working in church as it is now requires a lot of energy. I still don’t have it and Mom’s been gone for 6 years. So I may not ever get it back.

Then again, even if I did have the energy, I wouldn’t do ministry the way it’s always been done. Which means I probably wouldn’t get hired by a church.

Because if I’m a youth minister, I’m going to talk to your teenager(s) about sex. And gender. And media. And I’m going to provide a space for them to question and think and encourage them to do so. And teach them that there’s no dichotomy between the contemplative life and the active life. And most of you, churches, don’t like it when I do that. Or when any other youth minister does it. Because most of you, churches, like things in a nice, neat package that can be marketed to the larger community.

God doesn’t work like that, so why should that be the nature of my ministry?

And if I’m a youth minister in a church, I’ll be having series for parents. We can talk about parenting teenagers in this increasingly complex world. We ought to. And I will coach you on how to talk to your teenager(s) about sex and set limits and make good decisions…and not be so dang entitled.

And I won’t be feeding the youth ministry machine. Don’t get me wrong. I would provide opportunities for various types of growth and we’d still do the mission trips and youth camps. But…God is not a machine and church shouldn’t be either.

So often, however, church is a machine. And it chews you up and spits you out. And I’ve seen far FAR too much of that lately. So much so that it makes me want to gather my tribe and start another new church (because they’re isn’t already one on every block in the South).

But then I remember that I don’t have the energy for all that. At least, I don’t think I do. Not right now.

So my plan for now is to finish this PhD. And write a book on the coming of age of girls—because no one has synthesized all that lately. And write parent training materials for prospective adoptive parents. And do parent training for the rest of us. And throw in some counseling and advocacy for good measure. And that’s just my professional life.


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