Youth Ministry SNAFU #2

Mark Hagewood makes some good points in his comment on my previous post. While I am too tired to give a complete response, I feel like I need to clarify a few things:

  • I absolutely agree the communication has been horrible in regards to this situation and that the correct action in trying to facilitate change in any organization is to bring in the stakeholders in an attempt to discern any leading toward change. That apparently hasn’t happened in this situation, which unfortunately seems to happen again and again in our communion at the general church, conference, and local church level.
  • My last paragraph was not a plea in any way for “folks to get on board” with the vision. Rather it was a recognition that the CCOM has a lot of work to do if they think that there is any hope of salvaging this situation.
  • What I do believe is that it would be difficult if not impossible for the two persons involved in this decision to return on staff as if nothing happened, especially since there seems no desire at this point to make changes at the executive level. The breach of trust between employer and employee (and yes, colleagues in ministry) is huge and not easily mended, and would therefore undermine attempts at collegiality in the future.

I have a bunch of other thoughts on this, but will hold them for later.

4 thoughts on “Youth Ministry SNAFU #2

  1. Thanks for clarifying.
    I agree with you that the rift is probably too large now. (I was asked to resign from a church and then asked back nearly 2 months later. There is no way I could have done it…)
    My greater concern is that what is being expressed is that the positions are being eliminated. Maybe it is legalese to get through the removal of staff without a lawsuit. But if the positions are being eliminated, then we have significant problems in how we are attempting to affirm youth, empower youth and minister to youth in the coming months and years.

  2. Jay,
    Thanks for your clarification. I apologize if I misunderstood or mischaracterized your last paragraph. I agree that it would be difficult for Beth and Susan to return as if nothing happened. In fact, I’m not sure they would accept even if the positions were offered. That is part of the reason I didn’t name them specifically in my petition. (In my ideal world, however, this decision would be reversed immediately and Beth and Susan would continue without having to leave.) However, my point (at least one of them) is that, according to Beth, no one will be hired until at least August, which leaves a gaping hole during three crucial months for Youth Ministry. If the positions are restored immediately, we can at least continue the planned events and ministries (either with Beth, if possible, or with someone else.)

    You note that there was a breach of trust between employee and employer. I think I would use different language there. It is my view that Beth and Susan weren’t employees of the Bishop or the CCOM Executive Committee, but of the entire Tennessee Conference. It is (or should be) similar to the structure of a local church – the senior pastor is not an employer with church staff as his or her employees.

    I really appreciate this dialogue with you. John Wesley never could’ve imagined Holy Conferencing taking place via computers!

  3. Hey Jay and Mark,
    I too, an distressed about the decision by someone in authority (I am still not exactly sure who made it) to terminate two posiions I consider to be among the most effective in our conference as a prt of a new vision. While I agree that communication (or lack thereof) is important I have some prior questions.

    First, Whose vision are we talking about? Is this God’s vision for the conference reached by a process of spiritual discernment or simply a reflection of someone’s desire to do something else, something different? Is this a vision emerging from and reflecting the discernment of the conference and those most involved in those ministries or simply one person’s (or committee’s) idea of what they would like for us to do?

    If this decision was a result of a spiritual discernment process, what was that process? Who was involved in that process: youth, youth leaders, youth parents, children’s leaders, children’s parents? What assurance do we have that this decision really does reflect God’s vision for us as a conference?

    One of the main emphases for the upcoming General Conference will be leadership development, especially younger leaders. I have seen firsthand how the present positions and staff in ministry with children and youth have developed leaders by training youth and children’s workers for our conference through the Youth Ministry Institute and the Children’s Ministry Institute. In additon, my two daughters (along with numerous other youth and young adults who have experienced the conference’s children’s and youth ministry) have been part of the leadership of the CCYM and have helped plan and lead such events as Warmth in Winter and Summer Sizzler and even took the initiative to develop a new service/worship event, Hands and Feet. I have seen them grow in their leadership skills and in confidence through those experiences. Key to that growth has been an emphasis on:
    collegial decision making,
    taking real responsibility for seeing those decisions into action,
    being accountable to each other in that process,
    and a focus on growing as disciples of Jesus Christ.

    Instead of hampering this important and formative ministry, which is already doing what General Conference is asking the entire church to do, I believe we should be helping other conferences to replicate the disciple-forming leadership training that has been taking place here for years.


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