The command structure in the Royal Navy is much Like a pyramid, with much of the control resting on the top and filtering down and spreading out more and more. In the British Navy on a ship the command structure is as follows, Captain, Commander, Lieutenant-commander, Lieutenant, Warrant Officers, Master, Surgeon, Gunner and Midshipmen. This chain of command Is broken down Into three tiers of control. Tier one consists of the Captain alone. The Captain is charged with the direction of the ship, the purpose of their mission(s), the oversight of all creamers and ultimately the welfare of the ship.
Tier two, which consists of the Commander, Lieutenant-commander, and Lieutenant, has slightly less control then the captain but still has great Influence on the ship. The purpose of these roles Is to specifically focus the influence each member possesses in certain areas on the ship where the captain may be unable to completely focus on. Lastly Tier three, which consists of the Warrant Officers, Master, Surgeon, Gunners and Midshipmen, may hold the least amount of influence and control In respect to the previous two tiers, but never the less these roles are vital for the ships welfare and without them the ship could not operate.
If you can now imagine a youth ministry as ship, then the break down of influence and control, in my opinion, is as follows, the captain is the Youth pastor. They alone are in the highest tier of control. The second tier of control, the Commanders and Lieutenants, are the adult volunteer leaders from the congregation and lastly the third tier, made up of the remaining creamers is the youth specifically. This understanding is what makes up my analogy or mental picture of youth ministry. However after reading “The Godparent Life” this picture has been modified In many ways.
The First manner In which my analogy and view of youth ministry has changed was sparked by Dean’s section of the book about the barriers to a Gathering life, specifically the need to be needed, first found in chapter three page 59. Dean talks about the model many leaders fall Into, the Idea that we are pastor, you are not, or that we are leaders, you are not. As read this passage I felt as though an alarm was going off in my head, because I couldn’t help but feel that this passage was written with me I mind.
My previous understanding, impart due to my own nature, was that interaction etc. I could feel in my own life in many situations from school group projects to times with my friends after school that I had to have some control in things. This manner of me would have translated into any youth ministry that I found myself in. If I were to being always seeking control in a youth ministry I would prevent any diversity to the programs of the youth ministry and wouldn’t allow any other leaders or youth to take on leadership roles in order to prepare themselves for the future.
My need to control and take things into my own hands would ultimately suffocate the ministry. To relate back to my analogy, this insight has changed this IEEE, the captain no longer needs to stand alone at the wheel of the ship and does not need to be in control all the time, while he is the leader he is not alone. There are others on the ship with the capability to lead who might also bring different and helpful insight, approaches and methods to the ship and its crew. Also with the captain not always in direct control it allows for others to be fostered into future leaders.
This is the first significant altercation to my understanding and view of youth ministry due to “The Gathering Life” book. The Second bit of insight I gained from the book was in chapter two as Dean talks bout fatigue. The line the specifically stuck out to me was “often fatigue is the consequence not of too many roles but of too shallow roots,” (page 42 Dean). Previously I believed that I became spiritually tired because there was too much on my plate, too many things requiring my focus thus stretching me to thin. However I see now what Dean means.
When my strength is rooted in God there is no limit to what can be done, which we know from Luke 1:37, therefore when I am limited, due to being overworked, it’s not because I have too much but because I am not drawing on God’s strength as much as I could be. This insight has now pushed me to grow my roots in order to take on more tasks and at greater depth. By growing my roots this will allow me to better apply myself in a youth ministry. I will be better equipped to handle more of the baggage that youth bring with them while also continuing to perform youth outreach.
Again reflecting back on my analogy I now no longer see that the captain any crewmen for that matter becomes tired because there is too much to be done but instead because they are not completely drawing on their well of strength. God calls us to call on him, so why would we only partially do so? The Third significant thing I learned from the book comes from chapter One when Dean discusses the “One-eared Mackey Mouse Model. ” Dean uses this model to explain that the youth ministry is often a separate entity from the main church body.
More specifically in the case of an individual when the youth ministry is their only connection to church this is then a gap for the individual from the church when they outgrow the youth ministry. I grew up in a church where the youth group meet spate from the main church, physically spate in the basement and didn’t share the same mission, only creating a greater gap. Combining my own experience with the insight of Dean and Foster my vision of how to operate a youth ministry has changed in the following manner.
While I can’t necessarily control the physical meeting place of the youth I can integrate them with the main church through and common topic as the adults during small groups in order to foster a common discussion point. I would also create and opportunity for the youth and adults to work alongside each other. Adults to feel the youth’s energy and eagerness. Tying it back again to my analogy I would simply say that I no longer see the areas on the ship such as gunners separate room others parts of the ship such as surgeons.
Instead they must work in harmony together in order to further the purpose and ability of the ship. In chapter Three Dean and Foster talk about the third barrier to a Gathering ministry, the barrier of the need to be liked. Their idea is that many youth pastors/ leaders feel the need to please all people (youth and adult members) and therefore do what is needed to be liked in other people’s eyes instead of sometime doing the right thing. This idea of the book challenged me at first because I believed that this was something a youth leader should strive for.
If people don’t like you then they won’t respect you and won’t listen to you and then the youth ministry will crumble before your feet. However I do realize that while there is a certain necessity to be respected it is more important for the youth leader to have set boundaries and guidelines to their ministry instead of being a people pleaser. This has caused me to rethink specifically how I would interact with parents of the youth in a youth ministry. Previously I would have most likely sacrificed things from time to even values in order to obtain the parents respect of me, in order for them to promote me and my ministry to their children.
However I know see that it is better for me to be peace- maker and say the tough but right things in situations then being a peacekeeper and just trying to make and keep people happy. The Second thing from the book that caused me to rethink my view of youth ministry comes from chapter five when Dean and Foster write about partnering with youth instead of Just standing over them. This concept is clear to me and I understand its necessity in youth ministry to foster future leaders.
I am still hesitant to it because to me youth in leadership roles is completely dependent on each individual youth. Some are capable of leadership but some I would be concerned to put into a leading role for certain reasons. Still though I would lean more towards Dean and Foster’s proposal to enlist youth into leadership positions. To put it into view with my mental picture of youth ministry there are times that the captain should allow creamers to take on more responsibility on ship, because it is through more responsibility and trials that we grow into greater leaders.
The Captain will not be in that position forever and will have to be replace therefore he should foster there into leadership roles by working with them not over them. Despite gaining much insight and evolving my view of youth ministry there is one thing that I disagree with in the book. Dean and Foster talk about in chapter twelve “breaking rhythm” of the Christian lifestyle. I understand their point that in order to expand our faith we must spice up or cycles. However this idea is good in theory but in practice is unlikely to work. I agree with getting out of one’s own comfort zone but this is different.
Changing a rhythm prevents Christians from becoming deeply dotted in an inclusive and belonging base in which they can operate their spiritual disciplines such as prayer, communion, church services etc. Many people are known to work best when you get into a rhythm. Our human nature craves balance and through God we can stabilize ourselves. But to then Just so and destroy this stabilization is foolish. One doesn’t build a foundation off house and then Just the house or change the decorations inside, but you do not change the very thing in which the house is supported by. Rhythm is a great way to find God consistently in everyday life.
To once again tie in my analogy I would say that this, et the captain do the task for the captain and let the gunner do the task for the gunner, do not switch those roles simply to expand their views. Each crewmen has a specific role they work well in and are specialized like no other crewmen so therefore let them continue their rhythm to continue the smooth operation of the ship. While my analogy may be slightly farfetched I can see this, my view and understanding of how I would captain my own ship has been altered and refined for a more efficient and spiritually fostering manner.
The book “The Gathering Life,” has taught me to not always be in direct control, to strengthen my roots, and to integrate the youth into the church, while also causing me to rethink my view towards youth leadership and being liked and respected. While I might not agree with the idea of breaking rhythms I do believe this book has improved my vision of a healthy youth ministry from the roots up. The seas will not always be calm and the crew may be small but with these proper and solid guidelines and a God focused life and I am eager to steer my ship into the waters of youth ministry.