My Mistakes in Youth Work #36

I have a BA in youth work with applied theology from ICC (international Christian College).

At college we were encouraged to debate different views and interpretations. For three years that’s what I did. Discussed, questioned, argued, disagreed. And it was ok. It was ok to disagree over theology and doctrine. Because that’s what you were there to do.

But then you finish college and get a job as youth worker in a church.

You work with people who haven’t been given that freedom to discuss, challenge and disagree. And when you bring an idea that they haven’t heard before or you choose to work by the ethos “give them all the views and help them make an informed choice” they scream heretic and tell the pastor you’re poisoning the young people with unbiblical views.

Since i started in my post last August, that’s happened to me twice. By the second time it was really beginning to wear on me.

The thing is, at college they don’t prepare you for this. They don’t prepare you to have discussions with people who have only ever believed one interpretation and think any other is heresy.

The truth is, lots of people disagree and have different views but they just don’t share them.

But i’m not like that.

My mistake was wanting to debate with those who disagreed me but that only made things worse.

So what to do?

After some reflection and prayer I found a solution. We were always going to disagree on certain aspects of theology but they weren’t important. Within the Christian faith (and any faith I suppose) there are certain fundamentals that need to be held and then there is other doctrine that people can have different views on and that’s okay. We talked about what we did agree on and that helped to show that we were both starting from the same page.

And for the last few months there has been no cries of heresy! No worries about my leadership.

I’m sure other issues will arise but what I’ve learned is to focus more on the things we do agree on than the things we don’t. Focus on what brings us together rather than what tears us apart.

I hope I never forget that lesson.


3 responses

  1. “Focus on what brings us together rather than what tears us apart.” Exactly. This is something that I’m personally working on. I do have a question for you about this. How do we deal with others who don’t practice this? Be blessed.

  2. that’s a great question scott.

    I think in the situation that i was talking about in the blog, it took awhile to get to a stage where we could move away from our differences. the reason for that was because they thought our differences were too different.

    What i realised when we began trying to work through it was to look at the bigger picture. hat are the essential things of the faith. we both wrote down what we thought and took it from there.

    if they are completely unwilling to do this, even after much perseverance from yourself then i don’t think there is much else that can be done. But i think for most people, the goal is to try and work together. nobody, in my experience anyway, really wants to have things left in a mess.

    1. Thanks for the reply. It’s definitely about finding that common ground.

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