What does it mean for youth ministry to provide a “safe” space for our young people in the church?
Recently, I had a young person tell me that they wanted parents and committee’s and church members to stop saying that the goal of youth ministry was to create a safe place for the youth.
Is that really what the youth of the church want or need?
That young person didn’t want to go to a church where fearless and bold discussions about life and faith were not encouraged.
This young person wanted the church to provide a space where the youth group could take risks, be a little dangerous and maybe even controversial.
It’s not the time to avoid discussions about politics, sexuality, race and death with this generation.
Especially in the church.
Youth ministry must boldly invite young people to think critically about all aspects of their life and faith.
Youth Ministry should provide a “safe” space for young people; physically, spiritually and emotionally.
It should also be a space where risks can be taken.
At a time when Generation Z is the most overinformed and underprocessed of any generation, they yearn for time to think critically and for space where they are not expected to spit out the right answers.
Youth Ministry has always been an avenue where hard questions can be asked and we can wrestle with the big issues.
Today, more than ever, we need space for young people to learn that it is ok to wrestle.
Like Jacob wrestling with God at Peniel, our young people want a space to face the darkness.
Many times, that includes our own failures and it is anything but “safe”.
In the end, Jacob leaves crippled but also with the realization that he cannot go on without God.
Youth Ministry must invite young people into fearless dialogues.
They are asking for this space in the church.
Our young people are yearning for adults who will help them learn these skills that they can take with them into their adult lives.
Michelle accompanies the youth of the church and their families through the joyous and turbulent waters of adolescence, staying up late and waking up early to do ministry. She is the chair of the CLL’s Big Ideas Conference planning team and will lead the In Harm’s Way: Suicide Workshop during the conference.