First Third Conversations

Participatory Faith by Anita Smallin

[first posted in March 2009]

Earlier this week, I was reminded of an article I read about the Facebook generation.  In this article Gary Hamel lists 12 ideas that the Facebook generation has toward the world.  (For the full article:

It’s an interesting list to think about when we talk about youth ministry.  As I have been thinking this week, the idea of “Leaders serve rather than preside” keeps coming back to me. All leaders need to be servant leaders. Hamel says, “If we forget this, we may lose our followers.”

So what does this mean for youth ministry?

I’d say he’s affirming what we know. The EYM Study affirmed that youth leaders, mentors and parents are to model an honest and vibrant faith.  As the Facebook generation is participatory, we are to model a participatory faith, not a passive faith.

And what is that participatory faith?

It’s the faith of an empty nester who serves as a Sunday School teacher, the leaders of our soup kitchens, the folks who stick around after church and have genuine conversations with the lost in our midst.

Our leaders need to be active in living out their faith, not congregational wallflowers. The whole church needs to show and model that participation in all aspects of our life, from worship to service to prayer; from our offering to our actions. Our whole church community plays a role in modeling faith.

Anita Smallin is a youth leader in Baltimore, Md., and is fascinated by social media. She’s training to run her first 5K this spring.

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