I have just started reading a book by Doug Fields called Your First Two Years in Youth Ministry and I admit that I have found it to be helpful. It has been a while, about 3 years, since I have read any youth ministry books (about 3 years ago I was a Youth Ministry major in college but I changed majors). I figured that it was only responsible of me to re-read up on some of the ins and outs of my new journey in life. It's not so much the advice Fields offers or the neat pointed lists that he gives but it's just the fact that someone else knows what they are doing that gives me hope. I should come out of the closet right now and admit that I am going into this youth ministry thing without a clue. Nothing has prepared me for this, not the years of experience working with other groups, not the years I have spent being indirectly connected with this particular youth group, not the youth ministry classes I've taken, and not the books I have read. I am coming into this with about as much preparation as anyone should expect but I am still in many ways walking into a dark room.
It's not the preparation, or the organization, or the education... it's not even the church politics that I am worried about. I have done everything I should be expected to do in order to understand what I am walking into, I have spent years getting to know the people of this church, I have educated myself, and I have even managed to become what I would like to call an organized person. But when it comes to the most important thing... relationsip... I count all of that experience and preparation as loss. I am convinced that it is not education, organization, or preparation that causes someone to connect with students in a way that breeds trust, spiritual growth, and shear honesty. There is no formula for this.
So as I walk into this dark room I am exposed... I reveal my insecurity... and I simply hope and pray that after a couple of months these students and I might trust one another. Trust is fluid and it is beautifully chaotic. I cannot control it from every side. I can only pray that the God who brings harmony from chaos might enter this dark room with me.
So I thank Doug Fields for writing his book, I have to admit to all my nerd friends who know me as a critic of "practical theology" and to those who know me as a reader of more "academic" writers like N.T. Wright, William Cavanaugh, Walter Eichrodt, and Jurgen Moltmann, that I have enjoyed reading Your First Two Years in Youth Ministry. But don't worry... along side this book I am still finishing up Torture and Eucharist by William Cavanaugh.