Sunday, August 27, 2006

Evolving for 2006-2007

I'm freshly back from the Youth Leaders Retreat this past weekend. One of the marks of our ministry that I love is that we take our student ministry leaders away for a planning/prepping weekend every August. It's a little hectic for me, because I've only been back from Africa for three weeks. But nontheless, ready or not, this school year is starting. And I think it's going to be a much different year for SPACE. We must keep in mind that our ministry to students - "our ministry" like yours if you are a dteam leader or pass out Bibles on Sundays or drive kids to the Mall for movies - our ministry to students must be open to changing and evolving and looking to the future.

With that said, this year is going to be different because the overall student ministry has evolved a bit. When we first started SPACE one goal was to provide environments where students could serve the community. Over the past three years, there has been a slow, subtle movement towards empowering students to serve their community on their own - over the whole student ministry. The momentum erupted this past summer with TNTs for high school students, where kids were sent out into the community in teams with the intention and purpose for doing random acts of kindness. Additionally, the same kind of thing has been happening on the middle school side, with service teams being formed and sent out during Light Company's Tuesday night CORE gathering.

Indigenous leadership is an important concept in cross-cultural ministry. When the local tribes or peoples or cultures start to do it themselves, the non-local mission person must find a way to step away. If they don't exit, they can do a disservice to the local, contextualized growing movement.

The interaction between SPACE and the students we serve is very similar and the same exit strategy is important here as well. Students are doing it themselves, in a way that three years ago they were not. And if we continue to provide opportunities, we can accidentally comparmentalize the notion of 'mission' [I don't need to help my friend today, I can just go on Saturday with SPACE] and relegate mission to a specific time period or a specific opportunity rather than a lifestyle.

What this means for SPACE this year is that we focus a bit less on the community service aspect compared to previous years. We are not going to plan any big scale Launches. Instead, we are going to help a bit more with some of the CpR Fridays - where there will be a similar thing - students being sent out into the community with their peers to make a difference. I think this give SPACE a little breathing room to focus on a bit more on global-mission-culture-future-of-Church kind of stuff this year. A part of that is going to be facilitating a monthly-or-so gathering of interested students from the summer teams to continue to invest in them towards the concepts of cross-cultural ministry, the realities of today's world and what the Church looks like in the future.

It's definitely a different school year and I am both really excited and a bit apprehensive. There is another huge aspect of impacting a community that involves not just random acts of kindness but non-random, strategically partnering with local, indigenous, incarnational ministries already living and ministering to their community. I think we can still definitely serve students and their leaders in helping be a resource for some of those ideas. But like every year, we are open to giving it a try and seeing how it works out.

This evolution is bittersweet. We had some amazing times launching kids into service and we have seen some incredible kids have their lives marked by service experiences, sending their future into a different trajectory. It will be hard to not be an intimate part of that. On the flip side, it's an important exit that we make. A lifestyle of mission has to be intrinsically motivated - not dependent on a ministry team or a segment of your life.

Here are the high level goals for this year. Much, much more about them later. And would love to hear some feedback from those of you that have been involved [and even those of you that haven't...]

goal: help to shape a student ethos of impact and mission - use momentum from SPACE summer teams and TNT to collide into CpR Fridays

goal : intentionally use SPACE as a medium to develop leaders that are creating leaders not just followers
summer team leaders

goal: give LC a presence from a SPACE resource
KCoates connecting with Spotlight teams

goal: continue to invest in SPACE kids - kids that have shown interest in global cultures, the future and cross cultural ministry

goal: continue to build missional/mission team leaders

goal: continue to send summer teams to GCC missionaries when we can and cultivate those relationships for long term perspective

goal: rearchitect the LC summer missions experience

goal: replace the MERGE missions experience with something more aligned with service and evangelism - targetting incoming 10th graders

goal: help facilitate an environment for KCoates to engage urban realities

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